During the summer of 2017, I mentored Emily Stanford, a student at Oberlin College (Dec. '17), as part of the National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program at the University of Puerto Rico and the El Verde Field Station. Emily’s project was titled “What bugs bat bugs? Factors influencing the parasite communities of Puerto Rican bats”. She presented her work at the 2017 meeting of the North American Society for Bat Research. Emily also has been awarded a prestigious Watson Fellowship to spend a year traveling the world and learning how different cultures and peoples interact with and value bats, showing her absolute passion and dedication to global bat conservation. You can follow her journey on Instagram (@nerdybatlady).
While not acting as lead mentor, I also assisted in the development and execution of projects with REU students Michael Aceves Pierdant (2016) and Juan Contreras (2017). Michael’s project was titled “Relative abundance of bats along an elevation gradient in northeast Puerto Rico”, and Juan’s project was “Exploring host specificity of parasites in tropical bats of Puerto Rico”. Juan presented his work at Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students in the fall of 2017.
Supplementary to my involvement with the REU program, I participated in a mentoring training program, What Matters in Mentoring, through the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Here I gained valuable skills in engaging underrepresented groups in STEM, such as racial minorities and women.