Samantha in Taos

Samantha is a senior majoring in biology in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. A member of the University Honors Program, she received a Richter Fellowship for summer 2012 to conduct research at SMU-in-Taos. She is investigating the frequency of ectoparasites in specific habitats by collecting them off deer mice. She expects to find ticks, mites, fleas, botflies and more, and will document which parasites are near rivers, woodlands and deserts. With this information she plans to inform residents and visitors of Taos how to stay parasite free and avoid possible transmission of diseases.

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The great outdoors

Hello, everyone!

As of today, we have caught 77 mice!  I cannot believe how far we have come on this journey that just began a few weeks ago. Our class has put a lot of hard work into studying these mice. We have to be thorough, dedicated and commit most of our day to this class, and thankfully my classmates make it very enjoyable! We have become such a great team and learned many things from one another. Tomorrow is our last day to collect traps, which means the end is almost near.

The last time I updated you, we were finishing up collecting mice in the river. Afterward, we moved to the woods. We had a very large area to work with so  for the past 6 days we spread our 60 traps 20 feet apart and walked up the mountainside.

Surprisingly the woods brought more than mice to our traps – seven, almost eight, chipmunks were caught! I say almost eight because the moment you open that trap, it is anyone’s game. They are fast, and if you open it ever so slightly they will jump out at your face; trust me, I know from experience!

We have found very interesting and fascinating things on this trip, more than I would have ever imagined. Even as a biology major, I have learned to appreciate nature even more.

When our 7-hour workdays are over, and we have had our mid-day nap, we always find time to adventure out and do more. This past weekend we went horseback riding! I have never been near a horse, let alone ON one. I will admit, I was pretty nervous and almost chickened out, but with my class supporting me I did it and I am so glad I did. Not only was I riding a horse, but I also got to enjoy the 4-hour trail ride up the mountain! It was breathtaking.

We also celebrated the June birthdays last weekend with a big buffalo pinata and a chocolate cake. Everyone really had a great time and enjoyed being youthful for once!

Oh, and I proudly say that my biology class is in the finals for the volleyball tournament. Which reminds me … maybe we should be practicing!

Talk to you soon!

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