Sunday, July 27, 2014

Results, Conclusions, and Acknowledgements

Name: Rachel Dalton
Class Year: 2016
Hometown: Columbus, OH
Internship: Conservation Science Research Intern, the Wilds
Location: Cumberland, OH

Hello again... from Columbus, OH! I am now home from my time at the Wilds, and beginning the task of unpacking. It really does seem like just the other day that I was doing this at the Wilds, while excitedly texting Mollie, who was en route, about our awesome cabin! Truly, our time there went by with a speed rivaling that of one of the Wilds' cheetahs. 

When I last posted, we were about to head into analyzing data, writing the rest of our papers, preparing PowerPoint presentations, and our poster presentations. This was definitely a busy time, but it was not without fun. Last weekend, a few of us went on what is called a Wildside Tour at the Wilds, where you get up close with the animals in pasture while riding around in the back of a truck. Here are a few pictures:

Saying hello to Sonya the Indian rhino!

As you can see, I was not excited about this at all. :)

The beautiful African wild dogs! I am always awed by their incredible coloration.

Offering some lettuce to Tafari the giraffe.

A few of the Sichuan takin. There were a lot of them gathered around this mud hole. 

The end of week 8 and beginning of week 9 involved several lab work marathon days for fellow intern Melanie (whose project also involves qPCR) and I as we finished DNA extractions, prepped and ran qPCR, and all of the steps those two processes entail. At the right is a picture of me in the midst of the DNA extraction protocol. This project has definitely been a great opportunity to continue to refine my pipetting skills! I have also learned a lot about precautions you have to take when performing research involving molecular/DNA work, such as being very careful about preventing possible DNA contamination across samples that could skew your results. Due to lots of pipette tip changing, glove changing, and cleaning/sterilizing, and other assorted precautions, we appeared to be successful in preventing this. 

At the end of week 9, we submitted our posters for approval and possible selection to be presented at the Columbus Zoo on Friday. I was very excited to find out that I was one of those whose posters were picked (Mollie was selected too)! On Thursday, we presented our PowerPoints at the Wilds. We had the opportunity to present to many individuals with high-ranking positions from both the Wilds and the Columbus Zoo, which was exciting, but also quite nerve-wracking! I  really appreciated that they were willing to take the time to come listen to us interns present our work, though. I am very thankful to report that my presentations went well both at the Wilds and at the Columbus Zoo, and I received very positive feedback from those I presented to, which I was (and still am!) very grateful for.
Mollie and I after presenting at the zoo.
As I sit here typing this blog post and reflecting over the last 10 weeks, I am amazed and humbled by all that I had the opportunity to see, learn, and do. Being a Conservation Science intern through the Wilds Scholars Intern Program was a fantastic experience, and I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to work with and learn from my great bosses, Joe and Caitlin, and so many others. Thanks to all of my loyal blog post readers for following my adventures over the last 10 weeks, the Wilds for this great opportunity, the Otterbein Biology and Life Science Department for funding my time at the Wilds, and my fellow interns for a great summer. 

Now it's time to prepare for my next adventure-- junior year at Otterbein!