What is the purpose of your research?
We are looking at how climate change could possibly favor a competing species of ant over another and contribute perhaps to the dying out of the not-favored species. Losing a species of ant, which may seem insignificant, could have drastic consequences on biodiversity.
Describe a typical day on the job.
We do a lot of simulation runs to calculate food foraged. Because of the massive number of runs needed for statistical significance, I usually perform these runs over night. So on an average day, wake-up and look over results, looking for significant differences. I then attend a lecture or group meeting depending on the day. Some days I focus more on the math modeling while other days I spend most of my time doing literature searches for biologically accurate parameters.
What were your favorite parts of the REU/REV program?
As far as the program, I like the diversity. I feel surrounded by fellow intellectuals who will work hard but are from very different backgrounds. When my group discusses a journal article that we all read, we each bring something different to the table. The other members often mention important concepts that I completely missed or did not think about in the same way. So, I enjoy how I can learn from everyone.
What new experiences did you gain that have helped you today?
I came into the program with little modeling experience. I have since learned tons. I also had little experience coding in MatLab. To be honest, I am able to do everything in my typical workday because of the previous new experiences. It has certainly been a learn-as-you-go journey, but one I never felt lost on.