For what may be the best example of "high-flying science," one need look no further than Graham Scott, a researcher with the The University of British Columbia’s Department of Zoology.
Dr. Scott is on a mission to better understand how oxygen is delivered to support cellular respiration in humans and other animals. He has studied bar-headed geese — among the highest-flying birds in the sky — to try to better understand how they are able to perform a task as demanding as flight at altitudes where oxygen is scarce. His results have determined that, through the evolutionary process of physiological adaptation, the geese developed exceptional mechanisms for supplying oxygen to their bodies during exercise.
Now, Dr. Scott is continuing his research by studying how evolution influences the relationship between genotype and phenotype; its physical expression. He is assessing the evolution of oxygen transport and performance in skeletal muscle, and is uncovering the genes important for this process, to see if they compare to any of the mechanisms found in bar-headed geese.
Dr. Scott’s research will advance our understanding of respiratory physiology in vertebrates and will help improve athletic performance and may have impacts in medicine by providing insight into preventing strokes and infarction.