Recently, popular books like Max Brook’s World War Z, and Colson Whitehead’s Zone One took serious literary stabs at the realm of the living dead. Actual scientists are following suit and devoting their attention to the fictional study of zombies as well. For example, Bradley Voytek is a cognitive neuroscientist studying memory at the University of California, San Francisco... he’s also one of the world’s leading experts on zombie brains, who uses science-fiction to help otherwise bored students learn about science-fact.
Of course, real-world biology can be just as bizarre, complex and potentially inspirational as fictional zombie-science. David Hughes is assistant professor of entomology and biology, and a member of the Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics at Penn State. He’s been studying an organism in the forests of Thailand that has been mystifying biologists for years: the zombie-ant fungus. Word of mouth producer and zombie voice-over specialist Taylor Quimby spoke with him to find out more.