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Faculty Findings


Mapping Malaria

SF State biologists have been studying malaria among birds in Africa in an effort to understand the geography of the disease, which kills an estimated one million people each year, and their work has culminated in the creation of a new model, capable of predicting where malaria is present now and where future outbreaks could occur.

An olive sunbird rest on fingertips










"We can now predict where malaria will show up in Africa," says Ravinder Sehgal, assistant professor of biology. "We expect our results could apply to malaria in humans, too, since mosquitoes are mosquitoes, whether they are biting people or birds."

Malaria is caused by tiny parasites which are transmitted from a mosquito’s saliva into a host, where the parasite, called Plasmodium, multiplies within red blood cells. For the last 20 years, SF State scientists have been collecting blood samples from the olive sunbird, a tropical rainforest bird found across West Africa. Mapping the prevalence of Plasmodium in these birds has allowed them to examine the dynamics of the disease, including its correlation with factors such as rainfall and temperature.


"We used this data to create complex computer algorithms that can predict the prevalence of malaria in regions where malaria levels aren’t known, or predict future scenarios, when climate change or deforestation might affect the spread of the disease," Sehgal says.

So far, testing has proved the model to be accurate in predicting avian malaria in Cameroon, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, countries where levels of the disease are moderate. However, Sehgal says more work is needed to refine the model for use in areas where Plasmodium is extremely prevalent. "We’re going to refine the model to work better in the very humid Nigerian rainforests where malaria levels are thought to be very high, and we also hope to expand the model for use in East and South Africa," Sehgal says.


He and his colleagues published their research in the biology journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.



Preparing to Merge

Could casual Fridays and meeting times determine the success of billion dollar mergers and acquisitions in the business world?

Cover of Mitchell Mark's book "Joining Forces"

After examining 30 years of mergers and acquisitions, Associate Professor of Management Mitchell Marks has found that careful attention to corporate culture ensures the financial success of business marriages.

"It does not matter whether the combining cultures are similar or different, but how those similarities and differences are managed" says Marks, who has advised Motorola, Hewlett Packard and Bank of America on mergers and acquisitions. "You can combine companies with strikingly different cultures, so long as you acknowledge and manage the differences rather than deny or ignore them."

According to the second edition of his book, "Joining Forces: Making One Plus One Equal Three in Mergers, Acquisitions and Alliances" (Jossey Bass, ’10), minute aspects of corporate culture -- Mac or PC, dress shoes versus sandals, and compensation packages -- can cause tension in a merger. "Little things like meeting starting times can mushroom into bigger issues," Marks says.


As the recession eases its grip and companies look to merge and expand, Marks says understanding those issues will become paramount. Many companies are undervalued, making them attractive targets for buyers, and tech companies such as Google will be looking to take over companies to acquire new innovations, rather than developing them in-house. "Who would have ever thought Oracle would have bought Sun? There will be huge deals as executives become more confident the economy is improving," Marks says.


Marks expects foreign companies to become players in the expanding market, with companies in China and India among the busiest buyers. Companies such as Cisco that emphasize cultural learning have had more success than those who try to dominate the other company, he says. "You acknowledge the differences; you educate people on it. Companies that did deep cultural learning had better results."

For more on these and other faculty findings, visit www.sfsu.edu/news


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