The Big Sleep #410

February 24, 2017

This week we take a closer look at hibernation and how it works. We speak with Kelly Drew, a neuroscientist at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, who studies the Arctic ground squirrel, the "Usain Bolt" of hibernators. And we talk with Frank van Breukelen, a biologist at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, who studies an animal who isn't very good at hibernating: the tenrec.

This episode is hosted by Bethany Brookshire, science writer from Science News.


  • Kelly Drew
  • Frank van Breukelen

Guest Bios

Kelly Drew

Kelly Drew is a neuroscientist at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. Research in the Drew lab focuses on three aspects of hibernation biology: mechanisms of intrinsic neuroprotective properties of Arctic ground squirrel brain in the hibernating and euthermic state; mechanisms and cognitive significance of synaptic remodeling observed during hibernation torpor and arousal; and central nervous system regulation of metabolic suppression in hibernation.

Frank van Breukelen

Frank van Breukelen is a biologist at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas. His lab is interested in the mechanisms that allow animals to survive in harsh environments, and exploits biochemical and molecular approaches to understanding what allows some animals to survive in extreme environments. Frank became fascinated with what allows some mammals to seemingly suspend their metabolisms and survive conditions that would kill most other mammals.

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