June 23, 2014, BY Kathryn Kopchik

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Bucknell University biology professor Mark Haussmann has been awarded the Leverhulme Trust Visiting Professorship.

Haussmann will use the grant to support his sabbatical travel to Scotland, where he will conduct research at the University of Glasgow. He also will give guest lectures at a number of universities including Edinburgh, Cambridge, Oxford and Cardiff.

The Leverhulme Trust awards visiting professorships to fewer than 15 eminent researchers from overseas each year and brings them to a university in the United Kingdom. Funding enables distinguished academics to enhance the knowledge and skills of faculty and students within the host institution.

Haussmann, who joined the Bucknell faculty in 2008, holds degrees from Iowa State University and Wartburg College.

His research examines the link between stress and the aging process, using telomeres, the protective caps at the ends of DNA strands. "Telomeres naturally shorten during the aging process, but we're now finding that stress exacerbates that erosion and potentially speeds up the rate at which we age," said Haussmann, who uses bird eggs as a model to explore the prenatal environment.

Haussmann will build on his research by exploring how aging occurs across generations. "One finding from my recent work at Bucknell is that mothers who are chronically stressed have offspring that are more prone to stress and accelerated aging. The work in Glasgow will take that a step further and look at the effects on grandchildren, so we'll be exploring the trans-generational effects of stress on aging.

"As a large research university, the University of Glasgow has a different model for scholarship than we do at Bucknell. I really hope to be able to involve Glasgow students in the research, as working with my own research students at Bucknell is one of the most rewarding parts of my job."

Haussmann credits the Leverhulme professorship with "a chance to really focus on my scholarship for a year. The University of Glasgow has some incredible scientists that work in my field, so I'm excited to get the chance to work with them all so closely. I'll also be traveling with my wife and two daughters, and we're excited to experience a different culture and have some fantastic adventures together."

As for how his sabbatical experience might impact his Bucknell students when he returns, Haussmann says, "Sabbaticals are a chance for faculty to refresh but also to reflect on their scholarship and explore new avenues. It's hard to predict exactly how this will all play out, but I imagine the work I do in Glasgow will shape the research trajectory that my students I take quite a bit. I may even start serving haggis at lab meetings!"