Science in Action Profile at Rice Creek Field Station

Calee Wilson   

Calee SIA

Local museum specimen screening for the presence of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (March 2014 to May 2015)  

What is the focus of your research and why is it important?
The main focus of my research is to detect the presence or absence among the Rice Creek museum collection of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, also known as Bd or a chytrid fungus in amphibians.  Bd causes cutaneous infections in amphibians that is spreading worldwide in the amphibian populations and causing die offs.  It is important to determine if BD is present in an amphibian population so that preventative measures can be taken to limit further spread and decrease the Bd related die offs.  If Bd is present in the museum specimen then, then what is the year in which it first appeared in the animals?  This is important because it will help determine the emergence year of Bd into the local populations.  Then we can find out other information such as specific species that are most affected, knowledge of how the Bd fungus spreads, its patterns of prevalence, and conditions that are favorable for severe outbreaks.

What have you learned about conducting research?
I have learned that nothing is ever set in stone, or turns out as planned.  There is always a chance for unexpected results and that your predictions are just hypotheses based on other previous, similar studies.  Different results are not a bad thing; that means that there is more to it than you thought.

Describe a memorable research experience at Rice Creek Field Station.
One of my memorable research experiences at Rice Creek Field Station was on a similar study, but live specimen screening, and I caught the largest Bull Frog I have ever seen, just sitting under a log.

Where did you grow up and how did you become interested in science?
I grew up in Baldwinsville, NY and became interested in science when I was a young girl.  As a child we had always had animals, horses, cats, birds, frogs, geckos, dogs, and chickens. S o naturally I am an animal lover.  My dream is to become a Veterinarian. In order to pursue a career in Veterinary Medicine you have to take science classes, which was fine by me.  I have always been interested in nature and how the environment works together and the different types of problems that can occur within an animal in their environment.  It is fascinating!

What are your plans for the future?
My plans for the future are to pursue my career into graduated school to study Veterinary Medicine, specializing in Equine and Small Animals.  I currently am not sure where I am going to be attending Vet School.  That may have a lot to do with where I decide to settle down.  For the first five to ten years, I will most likely be working under someone else and eventually I would like to open my own practice where it is warm and sunny.

Calle SIA bottom