Friday, June 23, 2017

Friendship and Happiness

Hey folks!

     I’m Emily, another new research assistant at Serena Camp. I recently graduated from the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology 4+1 Master’s program at Tulane University. During my undergraduate career I assisted in data collection for the Mockingbird project in the Jordan Karubian lab. We collected information on behavior and lead levels in blood to study the link between soil lead level and mockingbird fitness in different populations throughout New Orleans. I also spent a good deal of time coaching at NOLA gymnastics.

Here is Kaia, demonstrating the ideal position in which to study zebra sociality. 

      After graduation, I spent a summer at the Mpala Research Center in Laikipia, Kenya. There, I worked in the Daniel Rubenstein lab assisting in social network data collection with a PhD student, Kaia Tomback (see photo above). I also assisted Dr. Andrew Gersick in playback experiments at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy (see photo below). While spending most of my days elbow deep in zebra dung, I learned to love life in the field. I continued my work with Andy the next year, assisting with data analysis. Knowing that I was looking for a research position after graduation, Andy introduced me to Dr. Holekamp.
This is Andy, shown recording zebra behavior during a playback trial. 

     Currently, I just finished my first week at Serena camp. I am settling into life in a new place, and I love it here. The triangle is beautiful, with an entirely different ecosystem than Mpala. I am learning the work slowly, and already have a favorite hyena (EREM). EREM was the first hyena I could identify in the field, which was an exciting moment for me. I still have around 179 to learn, but I’ll get there. I have also enjoyed meeting new people and going on adventures around the triangle, including birding. I have a birding hobby, and here I added more birds to my life list in one day than I did all last year. To be fair, Stratton Hatfield (pictured on the bottom of the following photo), a Martial Eagle researcher, was there to identify them all for me. My first week could not have been more amazing, and I cannot wait to see what the ensuing year holds. 

Mike and me getting a piggyback from Stratton on the Tanzanian border. PC: Kecil John

Michigan State University | College of Natural Science