Madison Spinelli, 2020, Undeclared

I spent my summer working on the Princeton Zebra Project. This summer was focused on the relationship between parasites and immunoglobulin levels in the Grévy’s and plains zebras, as well as co-occurring domesticated donkeys. My primary job was to collect fecal samples, observe zebra behavior, and do vegetation transects. In the lab, I analyzed fecal samples for parasite-egg counts and helped with the immunoglobulin analysis using the ELISA assay, which uses horse antibodies to measure the levels of immunoglobulin in a sample. My research partner and I also worked on our own project that focused on parasite levels in domesticated donkeys. Our experiment consisted of splitting the donkeys into two grazing groups — one with cattle and one without — and measuring the differences in parasite levels. The results of our research showed that the donkey group with cattle had fewer parasites than the group that grazed alone because the cattle — which are unaffected by the parasites — absorbed most of the parasites, leaving less for the donkeys to absorb. Through this internship, I was able to gain valuable field-research and lab skills as well as implement my own research project. I also learned what it entails to work in a research discipline.

* This internship is connected to the PEI Development Grand Challenges project, “Water, Savannas and Society.