Caroline Chaboo, curator, focuses on the biology, behavior and systematics of chrysomelid leaf beetles. After developing a hypothesis of broad evolutionary relationships, she is looking more closely at small groups, collecting and incorporating data from beetle life history, host plant choices, and insect defenses. Her research program goals are to refine evolutionary relationships, improve current classification schemes, and examine the evolution of various features, e.g., host plant choice, maternal care, gregariousness, construction behavior and morphology.
While growing up in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountians in Altadena, California, Steve Goddard developed his lifelong fascination for art, biology and natural history. As an undergraduate at Grinnell College he came close to majoring in physiological psychology but turned his attention to art (printmakting and metalsmithing) and subsequently to the history of art. After two years of research in Belgium, and the completion of his dissertation about a painter’s workshop in early sixteenth-century Antwerp (University of Iowa, 1983) he enjoyed a post-doctoral internship at the Yale University Art Gallery. This introduction to art museum curatorial work launched his career in print studies at the Spencer Museum of Art at KU where he has worked since 1985. In recent years his interests have included an exploration of the connections between the arts and biosciences, especially in regard to the enormous climate-related challenges now facing us. In this light it may be relevant that he is also interested in post-apocalyptic imagery in art, literature and film.
Bethany Christiansen recently graduated with a B.A. in English. Her research interests include English language studies, more specifically, Old English and the Anglo-Saxons. She also has done research that combines language with art, including work on two comic books. In 2010, she made “Hades,” a graphic novel combining James Joyce’s Ulysses and Dante’s Inferno. More recently, she finished “Missouri’s Favorite Son,” a comic that treats Thomas Hart Benton’s role in creating a social history of Kansas City through murals. This spring she also completed her honors senior thesis on an Old English poem, called, “The Unlocatable Cross: Shifting Narrative Voices and Time Frames in The Dream of the Rood.”
Although she is not a student of the sciences, she is excited for this interdisciplinary experience in Peru. She looks forward to learning about insect specimen collection, as well as building a portfolio of Amazonian nature paintings and drawings. The artistic culmination of this trip, she hopes, will be a comic book pamphlet that features a bug as a main character and teaches about the role that insects play in the rainforest; this pamphlet could be a dual language version – in both Spanish and English – and used as educational material for Peruvian schools.
Thomas C. Hardy
Growing up in an art museum sparked Thomas Hardy's interest in visual arts – an interest that has expanded to include many other art forms. He graduated from KU with a degree in English and creative writing, and is now a journalism graduate student focusing on media representations of and artistic value in video games. His job as a blogger and web content designer at the Natural History Museum requires him to present science to the public in an interesting, coherent way.
Thomas will take photographs and will be the main blogger on the trip. He hopes to weave a semi-comprehensive narrative about the nuances that may arise from taking a cross-disciplinary team to the Amazon.
Joe Jalinsky is an undergraduate student in ecology and evolutionary biology. His research focuses on the life history of a Kansas beetle. In Peru he plans to study arthropod communities of Heliconia in Madre de Dios.
Reed Niemack is an undergraduate student at the University of Kansas looking to finish his degree in Environmental Studies this upcoming May 2012. Currently, Reed does not have a specific focus, but is interested in the relationships between plant and various animal species. After he recieves his undergraduate degree Reed is hoping to study botany in graduate school at the University of Kansas as well, and hopes to continue to research plant animal relationships. This summer (2011), Reed will be studying abroad in Tropical Amazonia Peru from June 3rd to the 24th, and will be researching the impacts of the gold mining business in the surrounding forests. His focus for research will include impacts of the mercury used for mining on the environment and the people who inhabit areas downstream from the mines, and the effects of the business on the rainforest with regards to habitat destruction and pollution. Along with this Reed will be assisting Professor Caroline Chaboo in Peru in the collection of arthropod specimens, insects and arachnids, for her specific research project here at KU.
Tom Radocy is an undergraduate student at KU with a wide range of interests within evolutionary biology, ecology, and systematics. He recently completed an ecological niche modeling project, determining future shifts in potential African lion habitats as a response to climate change. His latest interest has been in entomology. In addition to contributing to a general entomology study in the Madre de Dios Department, Peru, he will be working on an independent project collecting mosquitoes to assess their diversity in the region. A second component of the project will be to contribute his dataset to a larger niche modeling project that aims to model future shifts in habitats of disease-carrying mosquitoes across the Amazon Basin.
He is particularly excited about this trip to Peru as it will be his first time collecting his own data for a project. He is also excited to work with other non-biology students so he can see Peru from an artistic and anthropological perspective as well as a biological perspective.
Kelsey Murrell is a senior majoring in English with particular emphasis on social justice literature and creative writing. During this trip she hopes to learn how the environmental issues the group encounters affect people locally and globally. She will be blogging and hopes to write some creative prose based on the group's experience.
Jeff Miller is a 3rd-year undergraduate student at the University of Kansas, studying Industrial Design and Environmental Studies. This trip to Peru will be his first time out of the United States, and he is excited to begin his world travels. Jeff is eager to utilize his education and skills to produce a creative piece of work for the group display next December.
Riley Wertenberger is a senior studying Microbiology at the University of Kansas with an interest in ecology and environmental microbiology. She also runs Cross Country and Track for KU. She loves Lawrence in spring, being outdoors as well as traveling, eating sushi and watching KU Basketball. The opportunity to travel to Peru is exciting for her because it will provide field research experience and direct interaction with an ecosystem not easily accessible in North America. She is also excited to experience the Peruvian culture and environment while also contributing to the research goals of those leading the trip.
The Biodiversity Institute is home to about 60 graduate students and 30 research scientists and curators. They participate in field expeditions to all seven continents and represent areas such as entomology, ornithology, paleontology, parasitology and herpetology. As the authors of this blog, they share their experiences and adventures in collections-based biological research all over the world.
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