"Through the University Scholars Program, I hope to better understand the development of a research project, and be able to better communicate my ideas. I'd like to work on my lab skills while also learning about the academic aspect of research. Aside from completing my project, one of my major goals this year is to learn about the different careers involved in research."
Wildlife Ecology and Conservation
My major interest is Conservation Biology with a focus in Conservation Genetics and Molecular Ecology.
- College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Undergraduate Scholarship, Fall 2009 - Present
- Awarded "Site Leader Pair of the Year" for the Marine Life Protection Trip in 2010 for Florida Alternative Breaks.
- Service chair for Alpha Zeta
- Participant and site leader for Florida Alternative Breaks
- Several projects through Alpha Zeta, including a yearly project gleaning crops and preparing meals for the homeless.
Hobbies and Interests
- Snorkeling, scuba diving, arts and crafts, and gator football
Genetic Analysis of Captive and Released Perdido Key Beach Mice
Perdido Key, located in the Florida Panhandle and southeastern region of Alabama, is the sole habitat of Perdido Key Beach Mice. This subspecies is adapted to the sand dune habitat on Perdido Key that is under threat from coastal development and tropical storm erosion. Predation by feral cats and competition with house mice are also thought to adversely affect beach mice populations. The Perdido Key Beach Mice were put on the Endangered Species list in 1985 and according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the population in the early 1990s was between 48-160 mice. With such few mice in a population, genetic diversity becomes an important consideration for reproductive success and survival. As populations continued to decline, a recovery plan involving captive breeding and release was created to re-establish Perdido Key Beach Mice populations. The effectiveness of the captive-breeding and release program is still unknown. This data can provide important information for re-establishing endangered Perdido Key Beach Mice. This project aims to determine the relative breeding success of released beach mice, and to compare the level of genetic diversity between captive and released populations. DNA extracted from tissue samples from both captive and released mice will be analyzed. The released mice samples will come from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the captive mice from the Santa Fe, Brevard, and Palm Beach Zoos. These individuals will then be genotyped using highly specified microsatellite loci. This data will be used to quantify genetic diversity and establish pedigrees. This genetic comparison will then be analyzed to determine the effectiveness of the release plan, as diversity is important for beach mice survival.