Houghton College senior Emilia Gildemeister, an environmental biology major, recently presented at the Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists.
The annual meeting of three scientific societies – the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, the Herpetologist’s League, and the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles – provides an opportunity for those in the field to network with professional peers and share current research in the fields of zoology related to fish and amphibians.
At this year’s conference, Gildemeister presented a poster of her senior honors work with Allegheny Mountain dusky salamanders and her attempt to teach them to recognize a new predator as a potential threat through the use of chemical stimuli pairing. Her goal was to test for the ability of associative learning, which may be important to species survival in light of modern global amphibian decline. Dr. Aaron Sullivan, associate professor of biology and department chair, was her “greatest encourager” as she designed her own research project.
As one of only a few undergraduate students at the meeting, Gildemeister networked and interacted with graduate students and researchers. “By sitting in on difference presentations and talking with graduate students who are in a place [where] I see myself in a couple years, I learned a lot about what to expect as I further my education, and the kinds of opportunities that are available to me if I pursue them,” she notes.