I have had the opportunity to mentor many amazing undergraduate and field assistants who have helped with my research. Here are some of the students I have worked closely with over the years.
I first met Mara in the fall of 2015 when she joined our lab to get some research experience. Her experience began with countless hours of counting red blood cells. Still excited about science, she stuck with it and soon got the opportunity to get her hands on some real birds. Mara joined my field crew in the summer of 2016 and was able to secure her own funding for the summer by winning not just one grant, but three. Mara found her true calling as a field biologist and is now working on an independent projects looking at egg level predictors of hatching success. She still likes science, even after cutting open dozens of stinky eggs, and is now in her first year of graduate school earning her masters in Global Wildlife Health and Conservation at the University of Bristol.
Kelley joined the lab in the fall of 2015 and has been making us laugh ever sense. One of our best molecular biologists, I am fairly certain that she can extract DNA in her sleep! Kelley decided to see just exactly where all those blood samples come from by joining my field crew for the summer of 2016. This is where Kelley found her true calling as a bird nerd. Pursing her interest in animal behavior, Kelley pursued an independent project looking at the impacts of mites on female incubation behavior. With the help of Dr. Dan Ardia we put together some pretty fancy thermocouple eggs to measure embryo temperatures in the field. This spring Kelley successfully defended her honors thesis and graduated! She is sticking around this year doing research in at least three labs. I will be working with Kelley to publish a cool project looking how parasites influence nestling immune development and investment.
I first met Will in the spring of 2013 when he started working in our lab as an undergraduate research assistant. A wiz with computers, he proved himself to be valuable from the start by helping to optimize our protocol for measuring immune data from blood slides. Will has tried his hand at many things in the lab, but in 2016 took the plunge into the field, where he also found time to also work on an independent project looking at the abiotic and biotic factors that drive mite population growth. He found new technology to play with in the form of ibuttons. This spring Will successfully defended his honors thesis and graduated. He is now attending graduate school to get a masters in Epidemiology (clearly taking parasite population growth to the next level) at Emory University. Will and I are currently working on polishing his thesis to submit it for publication.
Emily first joined the lab in the fall of 2014 and became an integral part of my immune research. She is a pro with the microscope, and can identify a white blood cell from across the lab. Emily is helping to collect data on a large and very detailed immune project examining how mites influence nestling immune development. We hope to finish up the project and begin working on a manuscript this fall. Emily successfully graduate in the spring and is thinking about graduate school. I will sure miss her around the lab!
Caroline started with the barn swallow parasite project in 2012 as a member of the field crew. She excelled and went on to pursue an honors thesis in 2013. Her thesis project looked at how nest mite infections influence the immune system of barn swallow nestlings. She spent many hours reading slides in the lab and produced a stellar thesis. She went on to help with field work for the barn swallow genomics project (see the barn swallow project) and is now a graduate student with Dr. Anna Jolles lab at Oregon State University where she studies disease and immune systems in african buffalo. Caroline was recently awarded an NSF-GRFP!
Matt joined my field crew in the summer of 2012 wanted to give research a try and decided to come back for more. He worked in the lab during the year and joined the field crew again in 2013. That summer he also did the work for his honors thesis project looking at how parents change provisioning behavior in response to nest ectoparasite infections. He defended his thesis the spring of 2014 and together we published this work in the journal of Animal Behavior. Matt graduated in the spring 2014 and then returned to the lab for the summer of 2014 to help Dr. Iris Levin with her project on barn swallow social networks. Matt is now a PhD student studying disease networks in house finches with Dr. Dana Hawley at Virgina Tech.
Jessica joined the lab in 2013 and was part of my field crew that summer. She decided to pursue an independent research project with me in the summer of 2014. Together we tested the effectiveness of a new field method I had developed to disinfect nests in the field. Jessica is an expert at counting parasites under a dissecting scope. We wrote a paper about our new method and it was published in the journal of Field Ornithology. Always an animal lover, Jessica is now in veterinary school.
Megan joined my field crew in the summer of 2013 to gain some research experience and decided that the lab was the place for her. After trying her hand at many things in the lab, she decided to pursue and independent project with me in the summer of 2014. Her project was focused on understanding how nest ectoparasite infections influence the development of the nestling immune system. Megan is now working towards her masters degree in Biology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
Over the years I have had many other incredible undergraduates and assistants help with my research as part of lab or field crews.The work would not have been possible without their help. These include:
I was lucky to be able to work with three 7th grade science teachers as part of my crew in 2016.