Corticosterone hormone as an indicator for environmental mercury stress in migratory versus resident bird species

Abstract

The goal of this project is to learn more about how migration affects a bird’s reaction to environmental mercury stress. I will be measuring corticosterone (CORT), a stress hormone, as well as mercury in feather samples from a migratory and nonmigratory species. I expect that nonmigratory species will exhibit more mercury but less CORT in their feathers. The constant exposure will naturally select birds that do not overreact to mercury poisoning. Overreaction to mercury tends to lead to reduced reproductive success. Therefore, it acts as a direct selective pressure on birds in mercury-polluted environments. With this information, we can learn more about how mercury pollution in one area affects wildlife on a continental scale.

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Greenspace and park time as mental health supplement

I am now halfway through my time as a Research Assistant for Dr. Ibes at the Parks Research Lab (PRL). As is evident from my abstract, Alexis, my research partner, and I are conducting research on ecotherapy, which is the study of how nature and greenspace is healing to human mental and physical health. Our goal for the summer is to promote ecotherapy to local health professionals. Our research involves compiling scientific data about nature’s healing effects, so that health professionals can prescribe nature to patients.  We are also compiling information about local parks, so that doctor’s patients can find parks tailored to their needs.

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Plants to Plastic: Polymerization of PA-11, a renewable plastic

I remember being about seven years old and asking my mom, after staring at a plastic straw for a few minutes, “Where does plastic come from?” Her response was the typical answer — plastic is made out of oil. As a child, I thought this was weird, because I knew that petroleum oil was an icky-sticky gross black liquid crud that cars needed for some reason and I couldn’t comprehend how it made the straw for a juice box, but I accepted the answer anyway.

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No Problem

“No problem,” replied my host father Don Pedro.  As I continued to get to know him and his family through fluent Spangilsh, I realized that this phrase is a staple of his vocabulary.  It also accurately describes my research experience over these past few days in San Jose, Costa Rica.   My research seeks to examine attitudes towards the environment in immigrant and non-immigrant populations in San Jose.  I will collect quantitative data through questionnaires of both populations and hopefully gather qualitative data through interviews with immigrants living in Costa Rica.  I am collaborating with Dr. Roberto Rodriguez of the Universidad de Iberoamerica (UNIBE, http://www.unibecostarica.com/) and Gail Nystrom of the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation (CRHF, http://www.crhf.org/).

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