ED-QUEST REU first successful summer
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
ED-QUE2ST is a new Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program especially for first and second year college students from backgrounds underrepresented in ecology and evolutionary biology. Professors Catherine Badgley and John Vandermeer, and Jo Kurdziel, lecturer and research scientist, are co-principal investigators of the program that brought students from across the country to the University of Michigan campus this summer.
“The students thrived on the individual attention that they received in each research project and exceeded our expectations for what they accomplished over the summer,” said Badgley.
Following are the 2011 ED-QUE2ST students, their academic affiliations, what they studied and who their mentors were:
Ruth Alabi, South Carolina State University, evaluated new epidemiological models that incorporated seasonal dynamics of infection of cholera in Bengal and polio in Africa with Professor Aaron King and Micaela Martinez-Baker, graduate student.
Gisela Alvarez, Palm Beach State College, studied seasonality in feeding habits of zebra and wildebeast from Kenya with Badgley and graduate student Tara Smiley, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. Alvarez studied carbon and oxygen isotopes over the annual cycle in the animal’s teeth to evaluate seasonal variation in diet and drinking water.
Sterling Atkins, Morehouse University, researched exotic earthworm biodiversity under varying amounts of leaf litter, and associated effects on soil organic matter in north temperate forests with Professor Knute Nadelhoffer, James LeMoine, research laboratory specialist, and graduate student Jasmine Crumsey at the U-M Biological Station.
Ravi Shah, University of Michigan, documented dental microwear (microscopic pits and scratches) on the enamel of fossil proboscideans, elephant relatives, from Pakistan with Badgley and research scientist Bill Sanders in the Museum of Paleontology.
Kate Uckele, University of Michigan, studied the interaction between insects and plant hosts by analyzing DNA from insects collected from Barro Colorado Island, Panama. She also created interaction networks for insect orders and their host plants as documented in the field with graduate student, Brian Sedio.
Monica Valdez, University of Toledo, compared native and invasive species of vines under different soil conditions, and compared the rooting ability of natives to non-natives to see if invasive species have faster rooting ability with Professor Robyn Burnham
Yashira Valentin, University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez, researched coarse woody debris stocks and decomposition rates in a north temperate forest with Crumsey, Nadelhoffer, and Christopher Vogel, research scientist, at the U-M Biological Station. Valentin documented decay of coarse woody debris in experimental and control sites and measured respiration rates in woody debris to estimate CO2 release.
Additionally, Alvarez and Valentin attended the Ecological Society of America annual meeting in Austin, Texas, with faculty and students from the department and became involved in the SEEDS program (Strategies for Ecology Education, Diversity and Sustainability). They had a great time at their first professional meeting and found the experience very rewarding, according to Vandermeer. Alvarez, who is originally from Puerto Rico, attended every session on amphibians she could find and got really excited to find out more about chytridiomycosis, the infectious disease that has led to a global decline in amphibian populations.
Photo from left to right Ravi Shah, Yashira Valentin, Ruth Alabi, Kate Uckele, Gisela Alvarez, Sterling Atkins.
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