Azwad Iqbal, 2019, Undeclared
This summer, I interned at the Mpala Research Centre in Laikipia County, Kenya where I served as a research assistant to a graduate student in Professor Pringle’s lab. The research I helped conduct focused on induced plant defenses in a thorny plant species of the genus Barleria. We were interested in how these species’ defense investment (in the form of thorn production) responded to herbivory. I helped conduct several surveys and experiments that measured plant biomass, relative fitness, and other factors in order to gain insight into this ecological relationship. In particular, we were focused on how proximity to tree cover affected thorn production and relative fitness. My primary focus was data collection/recording, as we conducted several large scale demographic surveys that spanned several experimentally treated and control plots, numbering over 500 unique plants. Through this internship, I was able to get firsthand experience in large-scale fieldwork and data acquisition, while also being able to engage with researchers and academics from a variety of fields. This cemmented my intention to declare as an ecology and evolutionary biology major, and pursue a career in research.