Southwestern

Engaging Minds, Transforming Lives

Inquiry Initiative

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    © 2012 Lance Holt

A senior from Smithville, Texas, Kira majors in Biology and Environmental Studies

What are your plans post-Southwestern?

I applied for several PhD programs mostly in ecology

When do you feel most like a scientist/mathematician/computer scientist? I feel most like a scientist when I am developing methods for a project and carefully reading a methods section of a paper.

I am working on an Environmental Studies Honors Thesis with a focus on conservation biology. The project uses GIS to categorize land use and developmental planning in the catchment areas of springs known to have salamanders. Next semester I will use this information to conduct a vulnerability analysis and consider different management options. This is a particularity timely project as the Georgetown Salamander (my research subject for biology) is currently in the process of being listed under the Endangered Species Act. I decided on this project after talking with a couple of biology professors about possible projects I could do related to the salamanders. I additionally wanted to do a habitat suitability analysis, but access to most of the springs was not available. I have also run into challenges of high-enough resolution data to use with GIS and getting the programs to work correctly. But I have eventually worked through it, and learned a lot more about GIS in the process. The next stage will be particularly challenging as management decisions are never straight forward; there are many things to take into consideration.

Not to sound cliche, but I was a very curious child. I knew I wanted to work with animals but I was not sure in what capacity. I talked to Dr. Pierce about the possibility of doing research before I came to SU. When I decided to come to SU, I contacted Dr. Pierce about helping out with his research and was able to go out one day to assist with field work. To put it bluntly, it was awesome. From that day I have wanted to do field research as a career. I was able to join his lab the summer following my freshman year.