Lauren Wyman, 2014, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
As a research assistant on a project studying chytrid fungus, I helped to identify and analyze the factors that contribute to its spread and virulence in amphibian populations. Chytrid is a fungal pathogen that infects the keratin in amphibian skin, and has been diminishing frog populations throughout the world for over ten years. The impacts of chytrid are especially pronounced in the Peruvian cloud forests, where the cool temperatures and year long water supply provide an ample environment for the spread of the fungus. Stationed in the cloud forest for two and a half months, several researchers and I caught frogs throughout the area, swabbed them for the fungus and performed susceptibility trials in which we monitored the vulnerability of eight different frog species to the disease. I gained insight into what field work entails and how to design and implement experiments, and especially how to problem-solve when things do not go exactly as planned. This internship reconfirmed my choice to be an Ecology and Evolutionary Biology major. I can’t wait to get back to the field!