Wes Hirschman ’24
Operations Research and Financial Engineering
Impact of Grazing Regimes on Rangeland Quality and Wildlife and Livestock Use
Certificate(s): Finance, Optimization and Quantitative Decision Science
I interned at the Mpala Research Centre as part of Princeton’s multiyear Zebra Project. Our work was primarily focused on understanding the impacts that grazing cattle herds have on zebra populations. We are seeking to understand whether the relationship between cattle and zebras is competitive or mutualistic. To answer this, we collected large amounts of data on zebra behavior (by mapping their locations every day and creating heatmaps of their distribution across the landscape), cattle patterns (with GPS tracking tags placed on each cattle herd), and vegetation data (via vegetation transects and satellite imaging). This internship gave me the opportunity to learn much more about the environment, environmental research, animal behavior, and human-animal interactions. I now have a better understanding of how data science and research is conducted in a real-world environment, the many added challenges that come with such an environment, and I have a much greater appreciation for the important role the environment plays in our everyday lives. This opportunity has shown me the value of applying my Princeton education beyond topics strictly within my field of study, and I intend to continue to diversify my work experiences.
Biodiversity and Conservation
Rubenstein Lab, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University - Mpala Research Centre, Nanyuki, Kenya
Daniel Rubenstein, Class of 1877 Professor of Zoology, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology