Fall 2016

Wildlife Lectures Honor Alum

Mark Pokras, conservationist and professor emeritus, is known for his work on lead poisoning in wildlife.

By Laura Ferguson

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Mark Pokras, far right, with Cummings School students. Photo: Andy Cunningham

A lecture series at the Summer Star Wildlife Sanctuary in Boylston, Massachusetts, has been named in honor of Mark Pokras, V84, an associate professor of infectious disease and global health emeritus at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine.

Pokras, who directed the Tufts Wildlife Clinic from 1995 to 2008 and is one of the founders of the Tufts Center for Conservation Medicine, has devoted his career to continuing education for veterinarians, wildlife rehabilitators and the public.

His research on lead poisoning in loons led to bans on lead fishing tackle in a number of states. In 2014 he was elected to the Cummings School Faculty Hall of Fame for his work advancing wildlife conservation.

Naming the lectures series after Pokras was a natural, says Shalin Liu, founder of the Summer Star Foundation for Nature, Art and Humanity. “He has devoted his whole life to wildlife. He has given them a voice.”

“I am honored,” says Pokras, who noted that the news came as a surprise. “I came out to do a lecture [at the sanctuary], and I thought, Well, the introduction should take five seconds, and then Shalin announced she was naming the lecture series after me. Talk about jaw hitting the floor. I was stunned.”

Liu met Pokras through her daughter, who had taken classes with him at Cummings School. She invited him to lecture at Taiwan’s Institute of Wildlife Conservation, of which she is a benefactor. She went on to underwrite research and travel expenses so Cummings School students interested in conservation medicine could gain field experience at the Pingtung Rescue Center for Endangered Wild Animals in Taiwan.

When Liu started looking for the ideal property for a nature center, she turned to Pokras for guidance. They settled on 45 acres in Boylston. The sanctuary now includes woodland trails and a visitor center, where you can watch live video feeds of raptors regaining their strength in the Shalin Lu Healing Cage at Cummings School.

Laura Ferguson can be reached at laura.ferguson@tufts.edu.

 

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