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SIT-Summer Institute in Taiwan
Academic Exchange & Cultural Experience in Taiwan
Remarks for Dr. Wei-Chung Yang (楊瑋誠) for Adam Smith

We are very fortune to have Mr. Adam Smith from University of Hawaii, USA, as an exchange student in my laboratory this summer. We communicated many times via emails to discuss our potential project. The research which Adam and his thesis advisor focus on is analysis of Risso’s dolphin acoustic mechanisms. The most noticeable feature of the Risso's dolphin (Grampus griseus) is the presence of a cleft along the front of the melon. Since the melon of odontocetes acts to focus echolocation clicks towards the anterior portion of the head, the position of the cleft on the melon offers an indication that its function may be related to the echolocation system of the animal. Alternatively, a recent, yet currently unpublished, study showed that the tip of the upper rostrum of a false killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens) was the most acoustically sensitive point on the whale head. In Grampus Griseus, the cleft's position from the tip of the upper rostrum up to the top of the anterior face of the melon may indicate that it functions for sound reception rather than production. The goal of this study is to examine the functions of the melon cleft in the Risso's dolphin. Acoustic data on this species is very limited and the needed experimental designs can be complex depending the research question. It is reasonable to begin with a simple measurement of hearing.

  Several members of my lab got involved in this summer experiment. The experiment we did this summer successfully tested the animal's hearing sensitivities to sound at 10 different points on the animal's head. Sound is played to the animal via a small transducer inside a suction cup that is attached to the animal skin at different points around the head. The determination of hearing sensitivities was determined using Auditory Evoked Potential (AEP) methodology. This non-invasive method uses suction cup electrodes placed on the surface of the skin to measure the excitation of nerves in the auditory centers of the brain in response to the presentation of sound. This method has been used for measuring hearing thresholds in many species of odontocetes, and my lab members learn this technique for future hearing test on stranded dolphins

I believe that he has successfully played his role as an exchange scholar. He has done a great job on the research project, promoted future collaboration, and built a nice friendship between Hawaii and Taiwan. This summer experience is unforgettable. He will spend much time to finish this project after he returns and prepare  manuscripts for publication since we achieved many goals. I believe that he will have a successful career after he graduates. I am very thankful this collaboration opportunity and the program sponsored by University of Hawaii and the National Science Council (NSC) in Taiwan. 

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