Sara Hiebert Burch: The Science of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring

Professor of Biology Sara Hiebert Burch speaks on the science and relevance of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring in celebration of the 50th anniversary of its publication.

Hiebert Burch is an authority on hypometabolic states, including hibernation and its short-term counterpart, daily torpor, in small birds (hummingbirds) and mammals. Her research has focused on the energy that animals save by entering torpor, the circumstances under which torpor occurs, the ecological functions of torpor and how they change with the seasonal physiological state of the animal, and how seasonal changes in torpor relate to seasonal changes in the production of reproductive and stress hormones. Her current research focuses on the environmental regulation of animal preferences for saturated and unsaturated fats in their diets, and on the consequences of these preferences for cell membrane composition and fluidity.

Hiebert Burch has published numerous articles on these topics in American Journal of Physiology, Physiological Zoology, Advances in Physiology Education, and other professional journals, and teaches courses in animal physiology and behavioral endocrinology. She received her B.S. from the University of St. Andrews (Scotland) and her Ph.D. from the University of Washington.