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  • Avery Cook

Avery's Recap


Avery in the butterfly house

Well week 2 is all wrapped up! Even though we have been working inside every day I am exhausted. This week has really tested my patience and concentration to the limit. It can be so frustrating to work so long and hard on the research proposals and then have someone look at it and find a million things wrong in 5 minutes! I know their criticism is coming from a good place, but it is still a big blow when you realize you’re not even close to being done.

However, we both are very excited for our research topic. We are looking at bats at PWA and Martell to see if they can be used as a bioindicator species to hep managers make management decisions. A bioindicator is a species that kind of acts like a canary in a coal mine. If the species is there then that means the habitat is in good condition. This way if land managers manage habitat for that species then they will inadvertently also be managing for a whole bunch of other species! Ecosystems can be extremely complicated to try and understand so by using a bioindicator, land managers can more easily grasp what they need to do in order to improve/maintain the habitat. I am more interested in the habitat management side and Mia is more interested in the biodiversity side, so this project meets both of our interests!

I am extremely thankful for our faculty and graduate mentors. Brandon (our graduate mentor) has been my saving grace throughout this process. I am constantly leaning on him for support and asking for his advice, and he is always extremely helpful. Even though I have only been working with him for 2 weeks I have already learned so much from him! He gave a presentation to us the other day and it was so cool to see his passion for what he does. Dr. Flaherty (our faculty advisor) has also been a huge help! She has given us so much advice about the statistics portion of our research, which I have been struggling with, and has also been giving us advice about our proposal. Even though I knew both Brandon and Dr. Flaherty before this program I feel like I am getting to know both of them so much better, and I am learning more from them than I ever did in a classroom setting.

Today we presented our research proposal and listened to all the other groups’ proposals as well. Everyone’s projects sound so cool and this program is making me fall in love with research so much more. When I was listening to everyone’s hypotheses I found myself excited to find the answer to all of their questions. I love that research allows us to find a question we are passionate about and explore the answers. I’ve always loved learning and I am so excited I found a career that will allow me to always continue to explore the questions I have about the natural world. I cannot wait to hear what everyone finds at the end of the program! Even though we are only collecting data for about 5 weeks we can still learn so much!

Next week we start data collection and I cannot wait! We are doing techniques that I have never used before, so I have a feeling next week will have a lot of learning curves, but it is all so worth it. Hopefully by this time next week Ill have bat calls to listen to and camera trap picture to go through!


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