Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Help Me with My Next Project!

Hi all! I've been so busy with teaching, coursework and setting up things for my project that I've neglected to post several blogs along the way, although it's been quiet here, trust and believe that it's not quiet in my daily life! Ha! I have a few big announcements:

1. My master's research is officially in-press to be published! I will post more information when I get the proof, that project was a labor of love - I had to garner money, permits, collect samples, analyze them in the lab, statistically analyze the numbers AND write the manuscript with the help of my beloved collaborators. I am so excited to see my first publication go out and can't wait to add more to the list - I am FAR from done!

2. I'm OFFICIALLY leaving Texas for the second half of the summer to conduct my first field experiment in COSTA RICA! It is so important that I get out there this year, and so I'm working with another experienced graduate student as well as a few undergraduate mentees who will benefit from working with experienced sea turtle biologists, including me!

3. I've launched a fundraising campaign to help me get my PhD project going, if you'd like to learn more about the project, I've posted my lengthy description below from the fundraising page. I'm also posting the video below, if you would like to donate, please visit I will be making an effort to personally thank each and every person who donates to me, I'm nearly to $1,000 in just two weeks!!!

I'm a PhD student in Biology at Texas A&M University-College Station. I have been offered the career opportunity of a lifetime to work with esteemed Marine Biologist, Chris Figgener (see her page at, who has many accomplishments but her most famous one is the viral video of the extraction of a straw from the nose of an olive ridley sea turtle in Costa Rica last summer (watch it again! And please consider saying no to single use plastics like plastic bags and straws! We have mutual interests in sea turtle reproduction with very different specialties that give our collaboration the potential to produce a large amount of critically important data.

We are especially interested in this coming season due to the El NiƱo event, and we need to test out some novel tools to find out if we can support and justify an even larger experiment next summer.

The beautiful thing about this particular study is that any donation will be supporting at least double the data production of a typical fieldwork-based sea turtle study because of the unique expertise that Chris and I along with our collaborators and mentors bring to the table.

Chris and I both have published or in-press papers in our respective sub-fields at previous universities in which we designed projects, obtained grant funding, and applied for endangered species research permits. We also went out in the field to collect our samples with our collaborators under state and federal permits, and analyzed samples in the lab. Finally, we conducted the statistical analyses and wrote the papers with the help and generosity of our esteemed mentors, and we can't wait to do it all again!

The results of our master's projects have driven us into the sea turtle reproduction arena, and we aim to collect physiological and nutritional data, stable isotopes, genetics, reproductive, thyroid and feeding behavior regulating hormones, behavior and movement data, ultrasound documentation of the gonads and more.

I hope that you will consider donating to this project because we plan to maximize every cent by sharing data and consolidating our resources. The data we collect in this project will garner many scientific publications and management implications that will directly improve the lives of nesting female sea turtles. I aim to develop tools that will be interesting in terms of evolutionary physiology as well as useful by providing conservation implications. We also hope that by working with olive ridley sea turtles, we will be able to learn more about the most critically endangered sea turtle in the world, the Kemp's ridley.

I also want to add that I would be deeply grateful for any donation that I receive, no matter the dollar amount. I have been pursuing my college education for 8 years, and my fieldwork this summer will allow me to accomplish many personal life goals and bucket list aspirations. One is that applying for permits and conducting fieldwork in Costa Rica has and will continue to require the improvement of my Spanish speaking and reading skills, which are skills I have been pursuing for years of my college education.

I faced difficult challenges in trying to make my dream of studying sea turtles happen when it came time for college – many well-wishing adults told me that everybody wants to study sea turtles and it just wasn’t something that was a realistic career choice. I thanked those people for their advice and pursued my dream anyway.

Luckily, several opportunities to intern around the country gave me the edge I needed to get into a graduate school that would allow me to study sea turtle physiology and endocrinology. I am so grateful to all my collaborators and mentors during my internships and during my graduate training because you invested in me and have led me to success in publishing research and traveling to national and international symposia to present the results of the previous project, and I am amped up to collect more data and do it again and much bigger in scope.

One more reason why this project means so much to me is that I have wanted to work in Costa Rica with mass-nesting sea turtles since my childhood. It all began when I was about 10 years old, I inherited two red-eared slider turtles from my uncle, and a turtle biologist was born. Thank you for reading, watching the video, and sharing my story. your support means the world to me! If you can donate, an extra hug to you! You will be helping turtles in a double-whammy of intertwined projects and supporting the dreams of several biologists who will help us along the way.

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