Written by Stephanie Dreessen

As I’m sitting on my futon, reflecting back on the beginning of this semester, I realized it’s amazing how much you learn in 4 short months. At the beginning of the semester, Dr. Kloepper asked Cassi and me if we wanted to research bats. Of course we had this intent all along (unbeknownst to her), and after that we dove in head first into our research.

Right away, Cassi and I had to figure out what we wanted our focus in her research to be. I hadn’t thought that far ahead, but eventually, over the span of what was probably a week, I decided I wanted to investigate how density affects bat echolocation during emergence. That was the easiest part of this undergraduate research. Then came the not so fun part of research: scouring google for all papers related to what I wanted to research. She was super helpful and gave us a list from previous undergraduate student researchers of hers from the past summer (I owe you guys a thank you!), but I still had more research for myself to do.

We are to become experts about Mexican free-tailed bats. So every once in a while Cassi and I will get a paper from Dr. Kloepper with a note stating that “we may want to know this information” or in other terms, read this not only once, but maybe 20 times. Thankfully, bats are interesting creatures that we have so much to learn from and about, so this isn’t a huge chore. Featured below is just some of my papers that I have read, plus all my notes!

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Besides reading papers, we work on software programs such as Audacity, ImageJ, and MATLAB. When Dr. Kloepper first had us download these programs I felt so overwhelmed. But every week we all meet up for a group meeting to work on our skills within these programs. I can already say that I feel confident to go gather data this weekend rather than wait forty-something days until we actually go gather data. Below is a selfie with some of the software programs, MATLAB and Audacity.

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As the days are getting longer, and the time for us to leave for data collection draws nearer, I can say that my excitement grows tenfold each day. These eight weeks are going to fly by, make me miss my bed, and make me not want to leave the sites. I’ll be sure to take lots of notes (mental and in writing) to review when it’s all said and done. This is a once in a lifetime experience and am thankful for the opportunity!