March 2019 Student Spotlight
Grand Valley State University (GVSU) student, Isabel Thompson, was chosen to become a Kindschi Fellow to continue her research with Dr. Jodee Hunt (Biology). “I felt honored to be chosen as a Kindschi Fellow, it’s an amazing feeling when people are willing to support the work Dr. Hunt and I are doing,” Isabel explained.
Dr. Hunt and Isabel will be continuing their research on the ‘Effects of Enclosure Complexity on the Behavior of Big Cats at John Ball Zoo’ through data exploration. “This is the tedious part, and while cleaning and sorting through data may not be everyone’s idea of an exciting step in research, it’s where you find out what you actually have,” Isabel said.
Isabel met Dr. Hunt at the Undergraduate Research Fair, put on by the Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship (OURS). They had a lot of commonalities that led them to do research with each other last summer through the Modified Student Summer Scholars (MS3) program, also administered by OURS. The research observation dates were from June 15 to August 20, 2018. “We studied lions, tigers, and lynxes,” Isabel said. “We did behavioral observations and tried to correlate what features of the zoo enclosures promote positive behaviors, and reduce negative an stereotypical ones.”
Isabel conducted 30-minute observation sessions every day, alternating morning and afternoon sessions on lions, tigers, and lynxes. Part of her job was scheduling, overseeing observations, and training everyone. “We got a ton of data,” Isabel said. “It was really cool because we had ZooMonitor… It’s a cloud-based application that supports spatially explicit behavioral data collection and analysis...which is something that Dr. Hunt has not been able to use before.” One of the main goals of the research was to understand how to use ZooMonitor, and how to understand and use the data.
Isabel is a junior majoring in biology with an emphasis in ecology and evolution, and double minoring in anthropology and applied statistics. She plans on getting ready to present at the Animal Behavior Society meeting in Chicago this summer about the research.
For more information, contact the Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship at [email protected]
Written by Emma Sluiter, Advertising & Public Relations Major
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