From left to right: Mike (with one of our snake buckets and tongs), Jenny (with a boar's jaw), Lauren (with a gopher snake), Susan (with a kingsnake), and Joey (with a ring-necked snake)
Every year I take on several undergraduate field interns to help me with my research. This year I have 5 assistants from all over the United States. By working with me, they are hoping to gain valuable field experience that will prepare them for graduate school. In my opinion, they will learn more field techniques and research skills in their 8 weeks here than any college course can offer.
that a snake bag
can double as a
hat when needed
They work more than 12 hour days, 6 days a week. Every day, they perform several research tasks: radio-track the 20 tagged rattlesnakes, trap and mark squirrels, conduct behavioral observations and experiments on squirrels, collect measurements of squirrel temperament, help with presenting Robosquirrel to hunting rattlesnakes, just to name a few. They learn the difficulties that come with working in the field, the amount of effort it takes to collect behavioral data (for example only getting 1-2 samples per day), both of which lead to the surprising realization that research sounds so much simpler on paper than when being tested in person.
I am very proud of them and I have asked each of them to write guest posts for my blog. Stay tuned for their thoughts on squirrel-snake interactions and how they find the field experience. I appreciate their hard work; after all, my research could not be done without them!
Joey transports a snake from a
bucket to its glass terrarium