Learning Through Research Opportunities

Academics, Research

I am a BS/MS student pursuing a degree in Environmental Science with a concentration in Ecology and Conservation at Drexel University and the Academy of Natural Sciences. While my classes have provided me with a strong background of knowledge, I feel that the best learning comes from hands-on experiences. I started research at Drexel by working with a PhD student who was looking for help with his research on snake ecology. He was the first person who gave me a chance to prove myself and use my skills outside of class. He also challenged me to think critically about science. Through getting involved in his research, he became a mentor who was dedicated to teaching me and invested in my success.

Research gives me the ability to challenge myself and apply concepts that I have learned in classes while also interacting with experts in their fields

Once being accepted into the BS/MS program, I switched labs to work with my real passion, birds. I ended up in the Ornithology Department at the Academy of Natural Sciences. Through a combination of work in the field and the lab, I am currently conducting research for my master’s thesis, which focuses on local birds and Lyme Disease. The Philadelphia area is important in Lyme Disease research, because it is located within a region that has the highest amount of human Lyme Disease cases. I am working with the Willistown Conservation Trust at Rushton Farm to band birds, while collecting blood/parasite samples for my research. In my first season of field work, I collected over 500 blood samples from various species during spring and fall migration seasons and the summer MAPS (Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship) program. I plan to assess these samples for Lyme Disease infection and bird immune response.

 

In addition to working on my own research, I assist with curation in the Ornithology Department. I have participated in collecting trips and have experience with field specimen preparation in addition to specimen databasing. Research gives me the ability to challenge myself and apply concepts that I have learned in classes while also interacting with experts in their fields, who have provided me with invaluable guidance. In addition to my advisor Dr. Jason Weckstein and the other members of the Ornithology Department, the Department of Biodiversity Earth and Environmental Science has given me so many opportunities to learn and pursue my interests both within classes and through my independent research.

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