Emma Demefack ’26


Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Project Title

Climate-change Mediated Evolutionary Shifts in a High-alpine Hibernating Mammal

I worked as a field technician and research assistant on the Marmot Project, a historic study that began in 1962 and is one of the world’s longest-running studies of mammals in the wild. At the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory in Gothic, Colorado, I worked alongside a high-energy field team of undergraduates, graduate students and postdoctoral researchers. My day-to-day responsibilities included taking behavioral observations, trapping and handling live animals, collecting biological samples such as blood and feces, performing timed running trials, taking morphological measurements, processing samples and managing our database. Additionally, I collected data to study the genomic responses of hibernating marmots to climate changes in high-alpine meadows in the Rocky Mountains. This meant focusing on drawing blood and preserving the blood’s RNA. Although the fieldwork was challenging, I ultimately found it very rewarding. I learned valuable technical fieldwork skills and a better understanding of high-alpine ecology, specifically within mammals. As a result, I now have a deeper curiosity about studying the evolutionary biology of other animals.

Internship Year


Project Category

Biodiversity and Conservation


vonHoldt Lab, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University - Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, Gothic, Colorado


Bridgett vonHoldt, Associate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University; Daniel Blumstein, Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Los Angeles; Stavi Tennenbaum, Ph.D. candidate, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University