Grad student fellows and undergrad assistants
Mariska Batavia

Mariska Batavia
Graduate Student, Dept of Integrative Biology (UC Museum of Paleontology)

"Hibernation is an important way in which many mammals save valuable energy, especially during the winter, when the temperature is cold and food is scarce. I'm interested in the evolution of hibernation, but it can be tough to study the evolution of a behavior, which leaves no physical evidence in the fossil record. Luckily, hibernating rodents like squirrels and hamsters make a special mark in their teeth when they hibernate. My research focuses on this mark what causes it to form? How long does an animal have to be in hibernation for the mark to form? If an animal is in a colder environment or hibernates for a longer time than another animal, will the mark look different? I want to answer these questions so that I can study fossilized rodent teeth, and hopefully figure out when hibernation evolved in mammals. Outside of school, I love to hike with my dog, cook, and do a variety of arts and crafts."

Carrie Cizauskas

Carrie Cizauskas
Graduate student, Dept of Environmental Science, Policy and Management (Essig Museum of Entomology)

"I've been interested in infectious diseases since I took my first parasitology class in college; the life cycles of many micro- (think bacteria and viruses) and macroparasites (think things like worms in the gut!) are so bizarre and fascinating, and are often stranger than fiction. I've also always been interested in wildlife and conservation; once I started learning as a kid about the incredible animal diversity in the world, I realized that I also wanted to help save it. I started combining these two interests in veterinary school, and have continued to do so in grad school at UC Berkeley. As a veterinarian, I'm primarily interested in what happens inside an animal to make it less or more susceptible to acquiring an infectious disease: why do animals get the diseases when and where they do, and why aren't all the wildlife in a population always equally affected? For my dissertation research, I study the seasonal immunological, stress, and macroparasitic infection changes in plains zebra in Etosha National Park, Namibia (a country to the north and west of South Africa), in order to figure out if these factors play a role in the timing of anthrax outbreaks in this system. That's right — anthrax isn't just something to do with bioterrorism, but is actually a bacterial disease found naturally in many places in the world (including some places in the U.S.!). I'm excited to teach students in the GK-12 program how infectious diseases are a component of biodiversity, and how they can both contribute to and diminish diversity, depending on the situation. When I'm not in Africa darting zebras or in the lab measuring immune parameters, I'm on my bike, running in the hills, hiking with my dogs, traveling, gardening, snowboarding, reading, or managing my second career as a photographer."

Paul Falso

Paul Falso
Graduate Student, Dept of Nutritional Sciences and Toxicology/Dept of Integrative Biology

"I have always been fascinated with animals that live in and around freshwater, especially fish and amphibians. Unfortunately, not all of our freshwater remains clean and healthy for wildlife. I am interested in the effects of pollution on wildlife and people. I study how water pollution may disrupt the endocrine and immune function of frog populations in California. Many species of frogs are disappearing worldwide and water pollution may be an important factor. California is a very important agricultural area and I am specifically interested in how the production of our food may influence these animals. The runoff of chemicals used for agriculture may disrupt the endocrine function of wildlife and change how these animals develop, reproduce, and fight disease-causing pathogens. I enjoy sharing my interests and what I have learned in my research with other people, especially students. I'm excited to work with, and learn from, the students in the GK-12 program. When I'm not chasing frogs I enjoy fishing, photography, backpacking, and music."

Nicole L. Migliarese

Nicole L. Migliarese
Graduate student, Graduate School of Education

"I am a doctoral candidate in the Development in Math and Science program in UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Education. Before coming to graduate school, I was a middle school science teacher — there is little that I enjoy more than doing science or exploring nature with kids! My doctoral work examines how children forge connections with the natural world and, more specifically, how different kinds of experiences with nature influence the development of children's conceptual understanding of the natural environment. I also work as a curriculum developer, writer, and researcher for the California State Parks' Interpretation and Education Division. When I am not studying or analyzing data, I enjoy walking my dog and fishing."

Kristen Podolak

Kristen Podolak
Graduate Student, Dept of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning

"My research focuses on river restoration and revitalization. Urban river restoration seeks to bring nature into the city while reconnecting people with rivers. The challenge is to balance natural and human dimensions in park design. I am studying how people use and think about whitewater parks, a new type of park where engineers design drop structures in the river to create waves for recreation. One of my questions is how does the amount of water in the river relate to daily park use? I am also assessing the park's impact on aquatic macroinvertebrates (water bugs). My study sites are located in Colorado and Nevada. I am excited about the GK12 program and teaching fifth graders at the Sagehen Field Station because I hope to inspire young people to care about the planet. In my free time I like to swim, kayak, and take pictures."

Andrew Rush

Andrew Rush
Graduate Student, Dept of Integrative Biology (Museum of Vertebrate Zoology)

"I am interested in how new species form and how differences in ecology and behavior help maintain the distinctness of species. I have been interested in birds my whole life, so it is only natural that I focus on birds in my research. In particular, I am studying two closely related North American songbirds, Pacific-slope and Cordilleran Flycatchers. I am exploring how ecological and behavioral differences affect the ability of these species to hybridize. Throughout most of their ranges, the two species occupy different bioclimatic regions, with Pacific-slope Flycatchers inhabiting more humid forest on the West Coast and Cordilleran Flycatchers inhabiting more arid forests in the Rocky Mountains. They meet in two different regions. In the interior Pacific Northwest they meet and interbreed. In northeastern California they meet as well but interbreeding between them there is limited. By comparing both of these areas, I hope to find out how specific environmental conditions affect interbreeding between these species. Pacific-slope and Cordilleran Flycatchers look almost identical, but have different vocalizations. I am also exploring how these species use vocalizations for species recognition and mate choice and how vocalizations change in hybrids. My research has taken me to a large part of the western United States and Canada. I love to teach, and I have taught natural history and ornithology classes to undergraduates at Berkeley, evolution and ecology at San Quentin prison, and field biology to San Francisco high school students. I really love to see new birds and new places and try new food, so I travel whenever I can. I had a fantastic time interacting with the 5th grade students at Sagehen during my first year as a GK-12 fellow, and I am looking forward to meeting a new crop this year."

Katherine Scranton

Katherine Scranton
Graduate Student, Dept of Environmental Science, Policy and Management (Essig Museum of Entomology)

"Populations of animals, plants and insects are always changing: increasing or decreasing over time. The way they change can be very complex and can depend on many factors such as temperature, physical space, and interactions with other species. I use mathematics and statistics to develop theories about how and why these population changes happen. I study the Pacific Spider Mite, a common arthropod pest on many farms and backyard gardens, to apply these models and theories to actual insects, in realistic situations. I'm actually just a math nerd who likes being outdoors and loves basically every animal I've ever met. Besides my pets, I love baseball, my five brothers, and skiing and hiking."

Molly Wright

Molly Wright
Graduate Student, Dept of Integrative Biology (UC Museum of Paleontology)

"The ocean is an amazing and sometimes alien world — the invertebrate animals that live there look like they are straight out of a science fiction movie. I am interested in the reproductive behavior of these strange creatures, since they find so many diverse ways of living and reproducing. In particular, I study mantis shrimps, some of the strangest crustaceans around. Mantis shrimps have arms (called raptorial appendages) that look like those of a praying mantis, and which they use to capture food and to fight. And, they are really aggressive, which poses a problem for mating — they are more likely to fight a mate than to reproduce with it! My research focuses on a type of mantis shrimps that has a socially monogamous mating system (that is one male and one female living together as mates). I am interested in what aspects of their populations and environment have led to the evolution of social monogamy in these bizarre but wonderful creatures. When I'm not in the water studying mantis shrimps, I like to spend time on land hiking, playing the guitar, hanging out with friends, and reading. I'm excited to share my enthusiasm for the ocean and biological inquiry with students at Helms Middle School this year with the GK-12 program!"

 

Previous Years

Student profiles for 2009–2010 Graduate Fellows and Undergraduate Assistants
Student profiles for 2008–2009 Graduate Fellows and Undergraduate Assistants
Student profiles for 2007–2008 Graduate Fellows and Undergraduate Assistants
Student profiles for 2006–2007 Graduate Fellows and Undergraduate Assistants
Student profiles for 2005–2006 Graduate Fellows and Undergraduate Assistants
Student profiles for 2004–2005 Graduate Fellows and Undergraduate Assistants
Student profiles for 2003–2004 Graduate Fellows and Undergraduate Assistants

 
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