This is Stephanie Dloniak, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Zoology at MSU, Hyena Project alumnus, and wildlife biologist and science writer based in Kenya.
This summer we have several IRES students in the Mara. IRES is the acronym for the program titled “International Research Experience for Students,” which is funded through a grant to Dr. Holekamp from the National Science Foundation. Through this program, a number of undergraduate students are chosen to travel to our field site in Kenya and engage in research for about 2 months. Students assist with specific projects led by current graduate students. In addition, they learn how to do anything and everything that needs done on a long-term project on the behavioral ecology of a large carnivore - from identifying individual hyenas to assisting with field experiments to changing tires on the research vehicles.
This is the third year that the Holekamp lab has hosted IRES students, and for the first time we are incorporating a significant writing component in the experience. The students are participating in technical writing activities as well as trying their hands at science writing for a lay audience. For the latter task, some of the students will contribute several blog posts here.
Over the next two months, we are pleased to bring you posts from the following IRES students:
Moira Donovan is originally from Worthington, Ohio. She is an Anthropology major and a junior at Grinnell College in Iowa. Moira says that she applied to the IRES program because she “did a Mentored Advanced Project on captive Japanese macaque social behavior last year and realized her love for animal research.” She was in southern India when she applied for the program and knew she wanted to travel more; she thinks the IRES program incorporates perfectly her dual interests in animal social behavior and travel.
Benjamin Hochfelder hails from Omaha, Nebraska, and is currently a junior at the University of Nabraska at Omaha, majoring in Neuroscience. Ben’s application to the IRES program was motivated by his “desire to experience the pursuit of science from the perspective of both controlled laboratory experiments and ecologically relevant field work.” He had also read a number of the papers produced by the Holekamp lab and had become fascinated by the spotted hyena as a model organism.
Emily Thorne is from Rancho Cucamonga, California, and is a senior at Humboldt State University (CA). She is majoring in Wildlife Biology (with a concentration in Conservation and Applied Vertebrate Ecology) and minoring in Applied Statistics. Emily applied for the IRES program because she is interested in anthropogenic effects on wildlife behavior and how it relates to wildlife conservation. “The IRES program seemed to fit perfectly with my goal of becoming a wildlife conservation researcher and I couldn't pass up the opportunity to apply for this once in a lifetime experience.”
Stay tuned for the first IRES post tomorrow - Emily will tell you about her first few days here in “Pains, strains, and automobiles: Welcome to field research in the Mara.”