Alex Jamal, a wildlife major, plans to join the Peace Corps after graduating. Photo credit: Kyra Skylark

Voices of students in STEM

This week focused on science majors hoping to go into careers centered around working with animals.

Travis Farwell is a Wildlife major with an emphasis in Conservation and Management. Farwell is back at HSU after taking a semester off to participate in a three-month field study working to identifying and track birds through bird banding. Bird banding is the practice of tagging birds with a plastic or metal band in order to number them so that they can then be tracked and studied for different research projects.

The Wildlife Techniques class here at HSU helped to prepare Farwell for the work he did during the study.

“I learned a lot just from the Wildlife Techniques professor, he’s been banding for a long time,” said Farwell.

Farwell ended up processing and banding over 200 birds, so the techniques he learned in his Wildlife class really ended up benefiting him.

“We would wake up at 4-something in the morning every day and set up everything so that we could catch birds, and it was a huge, migration that goes through a specific area right on this river,” said Farwell. “We caught what I believe is a threatened species, the Willow Fly Catcher.”

During their study, they found the threatened birds nesting within a specific invasive plant that a conservation group was working to remove from the area. Because the field study was able to identify the birds as a threatened species, they were able to stop the removal of the plants to allow the habitat to remain for the birds.

Alex Jamal
Alex Jamal, a wildlife major, plans to join the Peace Corps after graduating. Photo credit: Kyra Skylark

Alex Jamal is also a Wildlife major with an emphasis in Conservation and Management in his second year. Jamal is in the beginning of his time here at HSU and he is excited to learn the situational protocols and how to interact and handle the animals he will work with.

Jamal has learned some of the basics that he hopes to carry with him as he moves on to harder classes, and in his future career after he graduates.

“The amount of persistence you need to put into it and the amount of efficiency and protocol that you need to take within every step of what you are doing, that is something that I hope to take into whatever field I go into, just that type of consistency,” said Jamal.

After leaving HSU, Jamal hopes to join the Peace Corps to help educate individuals on the reality of what is happening to the environment, and how that is affecting the animals.

“I would like to go out and do public education, just let people know about how severe everything is becoming and what we could do for the species that we still have here,” said Jamal.

Daisy Valencia
Daisy Valencia, a general biology major, will be apart of a directed study with Prof. Steele where they will be researching gene mutations and antibiotic resistance. Photo credit: Kyra Skylark

Daisy Valencia is a General Biology major that hopes to pursue a career in Veterinary Medicine after she graduates. Valencia is currently about to start a directed study with one of her professors, John Steele, where they will be looking into gene mutations.

Valencia took professor Steele’s Introductory Biology course last semester, which spiked her curiosity on gene mutations and antibiotic resistance.

“We looked at bacterial resistance and we tested multiple water resources here in Humboldt County, like the Humboldt Bay and Allen’s Marsh, we found that there was some antibiotic resistant bacteria in the water,” said Valencia.

After learning about the antibiotic resistant bacteria, Valencia wanted to know more about antibiotic resistance.

“That got me really interested in studying antibiotic resistance, how we can harvest it from natural resources and develop antibiotics that can help us battle antibiotic resistance, which is a really big problem now,” said Valencia.

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