USOARing to Argentina

If you have read my other posts, I have mentioned a grant I applied for at NIU, called USOAR. This grant can provide students with up to $2,500 of funding for a research or artistry project! What a great deal. I applied for USOAR, and found out about a month ago that I RECEIVED THE GRANT! That means I now have $2,500 for my trip to Argentina this summer, thanks to NIU. Unfortunately, this does not cover all of the cost, so if anyone would like to fund my trip, or knows of other means for funding, I would greatly appreciate any input! 🙂

In case you don’t remember why I am going to Argentina. Here is a quick summary: I will be spending six weeks in Argentina, volunteering at the country’s only primate rehabilitation center. I’ll be doing everything from cleaning and repairing enclosures, to feeding baby monkeys. Yes, I will get to bottle-feed monkeys! I’ll also be conducting a research project while I’m there. The project is attempting to record and document the facial expressions of the Black Howler monkeys, which are the predominant species at the rehabilitation center.

No running water or electricity is a small price to pay for having the opportunity to improve my Spanish, and help animals. I can’t wait!


New Semester, New Project

With the new semester underway, I am happy to share that research has been going well. I love working in the Wallace lab of the NIU Psychology department. I have been able to help with many various projects, and am now moving on to my own project as well!

On Saturday, my faculty-mentor and I will be running some pilot data. Not with humans, not with rats as we have done before, but with dogs. This is the first time anyone in the lab is conducting research with dogs, and I get to lead the project. How cool is that?! Anyway, we will be studying how the dogs orient themselves in space, how well they can return to a specific location, and what types of spatial navigation they use while finding the location. If the pilot data looks promising, we will continue with a complete study in March.

Along with the research, I have had the honor of being a mentor to the new students in the Research Rookies program. I meet regularly with a small group of the new Research Rookies, and met with all of them last semester to write a small piece about them and their stories. As a mentor, I love being able to answer their questions, provide support and advice, and learn about their projects as they learn about it themselves. Seeing their enthusiasm as they make new discoveries about their projects is priceless. And I must say, this mentoring process has been just as rewarding, if not more so, than doing research of my own. 🙂

I will continue posting updates as this new project develops! Until then, have a good one!