Three TNCC Students Participate in Metapopulation Research at the College of William and Mary this Summer

Published: July 28, 2008

A grant from the National Science Foundation to the College of William & Mary has given Thomas Nelson Community College students Josh Froneberger, Shenna Sikora and Eduardo Davila-Reyes the opportunity to conduct scientific research. For 10 weeks this summer, the three students are working with W&M faculty on different aspects of the Eastern bluebird (Sialia sialis) population ecology research in the Williamsburg area. The grant-funded program intends to provide research opportunities in math and biology to undergraduate students and encourage community college students to continue their education at the College of William & Mary. Students receive a stipend and are provided room and board.

Project descriptions:

Eddie and Shenna are working on an independent project in which they test how well sounds of begging baby birds transmit through the walls of various kinds of birdhouses. This is important because parents may DEPEND ON the begging signals, to determine how often to feed their babies, OR how healthy their babies are, for example. Noise pollution may affect communication in birds, and this topic is unexplored when it comes to babies communicating to parents and vice versa. Project directed by Pro. John Swaddle,
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Josh is tracking baby bluebirds with radio-transmitters in tiny backpacks that don’t impede the bird’s flight. This allows him to find the birds each day to determine if they are alive or dead and where they have gone. By measuring the habitat around SURVIVING AND DECEASED birds, Josh is hoping to determine which land management practices (i.e. TRIMMING trees, planting shrubs, etc.) help young bluebirds to survive. Directed by Prof. Daniel Cristol, 221 2405

About the Students:

* Josh has had previous experience researching species distribution in Southern California and was a student on the recent Ecology trip to Nicaragua. He wants to complete a Bachelor’s of Science degree followed by a Ph.D. in Biology/ Ecology. Josh will continue at TNCC this fall.

* Shenna was a student last year on the Costa Rican ecology and language field trip and is currently completing General Biology. She also would like to complete a Bachelor’s of Science degree followed by a Ph.D. in Biology. Shenna will continue at TNCC this fall.

* Eduardo is on the Vice President’s List for Academic Achievement and previously served as a Special Forces Battalion Nuclear Biological Chemical Non- Commissioned Officer. His tours of duty included Afghanistan. Eduardo will be completing a degree in Biology at W&M and then hopes to enter Pharmacy School.

Congratulations to all 3 of these TNCC students!  This is our 4th year with this NSF grant for which faculty members Sandy Spain and Jackie Spencer serve as TNCC co-coordinators.

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