Published: March 24, 2016

Camille sorting and examining beetles on a research table

Looking at the world from a holistic perspective and seeing the interconnectedness of everything is a crucial key to solving problems. This is one reason the field of ecology appeals to me. Combining my love travelling and the outdoors, I was fortunate to be a research assistant for the Georg-August University of Göttingen in Germany for the Jena Experiment--one of the largest biodiversity experiments worldwide studying the effect of biodiversity in experimental grassland communities. Awarded an Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program grant, I conducted an independent project looking at beetle movement patterns under conditions of biodiversity loss. As human activity causes a rapid decline in biodiversity, ecosystem processes can be greatly hindered; for instance beetles play important roles in ecosystems as predators or seed eaters. I conducted a study where beetles were painted with fluorescent paint and observed at night under ultraviolet light. Direct observation with this technique is a novel approach to behavioral observation giving a more complete picture of activity compared to passive modes of study. This honors thesis is the opportunity for me to explore research in order to see if I would like to continue on to graduate school as well as challenge myself to tackle a larger project and push my limits as a scientist, writer and thinker.