Texas Tech Experts Study Bats, Vampires, Death and More

With Halloween less than two weeks away, Texas Tech University has experts available in a variety of spooky specialties, ranging from bats and vampires to law and the shopping forecast.

Robert J. Baker, Horn professor emeritus in the Department of Biological Sciences and curator of mammals emeritus in the Natural Science Research Laboratory (NSRL),
Caleb D. Phillips, assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and curator of genetic resources in the NSRL, (806) 834-8181 or
• Phillips and Baker published a study in 2015 describing previously unknown ways that vampire bats’ saliva had evolved specifically for blood-feeding with gene products that numb the bite site and prevent blood clotting.

Liam McGuire, an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and research associate at the NSRL, (806) 834-5129 or
• McGuire is one of six investigators on a federally funded study of white-nose syndrome, which has killed millions of bats in the last decade.

Phillips and McGuire also are studying the ecological drivers, mechanisms and consequences of seasonal variation in the bat populations of the Hill Country’s Frio Cave with the assistance of graduate students.

Tigga Kingston, an associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and research associate at the NSRL, (806) 834-2594 or
• Kingston studies the diversity of insectivorous bats of Southeast Asia and how those species are maintained and preserved in the face of human disturbance.

Tamra Walter, associate professor of archaeology and anthropology graduate program director in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology Social Work, (806) 834-0615 or
• Walter teaches a course on the archaeology of death, which focuses on the mortuary practices and death ritual in both modern and prehistoric cultures. The class examines death customs and belief systems surrounding death and the afterlife.
• Other topics include cannibalism, human sacrifice, burial practices and the material correlation of those practices in the archaeological record, and how vampire myths in the 16th to 18th centuries impacted the treatment and burial of bodies.

Ghosts, legends and the devil
Genaro J. Perez, professor of Spanish in the Department of Classical Modern Languages Literatures, (806) 834-1003 or
• Perez can speak about ghosts, legends and the devil in Mexican literature.
• He will teach a course on Hispanic fairy tales in spring 2017.

Halloween shopping
Debbie Laverie, professor of marketing in the Rawls College of Business, (806) 834-3953 or
• Laverie can discuss the economic outlook for retailers and how much consumers will spend this Halloween.

Horror in film
Rob Weiner, pop culture librarian for the Texas Tech University Library, (806) 834-5126 or
• Weiner curated the three International Horror Month films for the College of Media Communication’s International Film Series and served as a consultant for the Museum of Texas Tech’s new exhibit In the Blood: the War between Vampires and Werewolves.
• He has written numerous books and articles on horror films, the most recent of which is due out in February 2017. His article on the 1963 film “Blood Feast” will be released in the book “What’s Eating You? Food and Horror on Screen.”
• Weiner has taught courses on zombies and the history of horror in cinema and written books on comics and transgressive filmmaking.

Vickie Sutton, Horn professor of law and director of the Center for Biodefense, Law Public Policy, School of Law, (806) 834-1752,
• In her 2013 book, “Reel Bio-horror: The Things that Keep Us Up at Night,” Sutton analyzes 47 films from the subgenre, discusses the psychology, law and science of the bio-horror bio-thriller.
• In her 2012 book, “Halloween Law: A Spirited Look at the Law School Curriculum,” Sutton exhumes cases that illustrate the subjects – many of which revolve around Halloween — first-year law students are expected to master.
• She has a teaching series called “Halloween Law School.”
• Sutton also wrote, directed and produced a romantic comedy, “The Halloween Store Zombie Wedding Movie,” now available on Amazon Video.

Movie scores
Roger Landes, professor of practice, founding director of the Balkan Ensemble and assistant director of Celtic Ensemble, School of Music, (806) 834-7844 or
• With another music professor, Landes created a score for the 1922 vampire film “Nosferatu” and directed the Balkan Ensemble during a live screening of the silent movie.
• He can speak on the power of music to create suspense, fear and horror in filmography.
• He says expertly crafted music and sound design can not only create and underscore a film’s emotional environment, it can also magnify its effects and even convince viewers they see something not actually on the screen.

Erin Collopy, chair of the Department of Classical Modern Languages Literatures, (806) 834-8497 or
• Collopy teaches a class on the vampires of Slavic and Eastern European folklore and the development from the folkloric vampire into the literary and cinematic monster of western culture.
• Her research for publication is on the vampire in East Slavic folklore and in contemporary Russian popular culture. She addresses the cultural and societal fears and desires expressed by the vampire in folklore, literature and film.

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