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Pfeiffer biologist Dr. Luke Dollar featured in National Geographic Science

Dollar_NGS_book_cover-WEBDr. Luke Dollar, assistant professor of biology at Pfeiffer University and a National Geographic Emerging Explorer, is featured on the cover and throughout the fourth-grade level of National Geographic Science, a new series recently published by National Geographic School Publishing. The elementary program was designed to motivate young learners to explore and understand core science concepts.  The series is standards based and research based and covers content in life, earth, and physical science.

Dollar's research is on the fossa (pronounced FOO-suh), a distant relative to the mongoose that is found only in the jungles of Madagascar. This research began more than 15 years ago on the African island while Dollar was a Duke University undergraduate research assistant studying lemurs. His curiosity with the fossa began when a lemur he was researching disappeared. Its radio collar and bits of fur were all that were found. A Malagasy guide put Dollar on the trail of the fossa, which feeds on lemurs. Through subsequent extensive investigations, dozens of treks to Africa, and willingness to share his ever-growing knowledge on the subject, Dollar has generated national and international interest in an animal that very few even knew existed.
“Being a professor at Pfeiffer and an explorer for National Geographic, I'm particularly sensitive to the need to bridge what is too often a divide between classroom learning and engaged captivation in academic subject matter,” Dollar said. “Through my own research and experiences, which also often include Pfeiffer undergraduates, National Geographic School Publishing has brought a compelling story to elementary school science students, helping them identify potential role models beyond those presented in the mainstream media.  Movie stars and pop singers are great, but there's no reason we can't also present scientists, explorers, teachers, and professors as potential ‘rock stars' for kids to emulate, too.”

Alison Wagner, president of National Geographic School Publishing, echoes Dollar's focus on the next generation of scientists and explorers.

“National Geographic Science meets the urgent need for engaging science instruction in the elementary grades and for materials that help teachers unlock the big ideas in science and inspire students to ‘think like scientists,'” Wagner said. “Through print, video, and online content in our program, students encounter real scientists telling the stories of their own research, discoveries and adventures.”

Dollar earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Duke University. His current research interests are in the field of vertebrate ecology and wildlife conservation, specifically focusing on carnivores in Madagascar and the United States. A National Geographic Explorer, Dollar divides his overseas time between teaching, research, and conservation and development programs throughout Madagascar. He also manages the Big Cats Initiative for National Geographic, a new and ambitious international action program to halt the decline of big cat populations including lions, cheetahs and tigers, through their natural ranges. 

Dollar's field-based programs include creating educational scholarships and building village schools, working to implement sustainable development programs, and advising Malagasy and foreign students.  He serves on the World Conservation Union's small carnivore specialist group, as a principal investigator for the Earthwatch Institute, and as an at-large peer reviewer for several academic journals. 

Established in 1885, Pfeiffer University is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year. A comprehensive United Methodist-related university, with multiple campuses, including Misenheimer, Charlotte and the Triangle, Pfeiffer is committed to educational excellence, service and scholarship. Visit Pfeiffer on


Pictured above: Dr. Luke Dollar featured on the cover - and throughout - the fourth-grade level of National Geographic Science.

Media contact: Natasha A. Suber, (704) 463-3040 or


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