Started By A Mouse
March 4th, 2020, by Courtnee Goodwin, zoology major
"I only hope that we don't lose sight of one thing -
that it was all started by a mouse."
Well, it was a woodrat really, and Walt Disney couldn’t have said it any better. Looking back, I honestly never thought that my entry into zoology would involve rodents, but I have come so far thanks to woodrats. After a small break to get married, my reintroduction to college life was through Dr. Michele Skopec’s Comparative Physiology course. After that class, Dr. Skopec offered me a teaching assistant position and now, three and a half years later, I still assist her in class while I finish my degree.
Dr. Skopec is the reason that I have had so many opportunities in zoology research. Through her own research interests, I have worked with Weber State’s captive woodrat colony for three years, and I have conducted my own experiments with the woodrats. Woodrats are known for their prolific caching behaviors, so I have been researching if previous exposure to caching items changes the speed of caching events. Dr. Skopec has also invited me on a few field research trips to Lytle Ranch in Southern Utah and Wupatki National Monument near Flagstaff, Arizona to gain experience handling wild-caught rodents.
My research experiences have also led me to be able to present at local and national conferences. I have presented my long-term caching experience research at both the Utah Conference of Undergraduate Research (UCUR) hosted by Weber State and at the American Society of Mammologists (ASM) conference in Washington D.C. Not only was the ASM conference a great networking opportunity with students, but it was also the chance to see what other scientists are researching. However, traveling is expensive, and I would not have been able to do my presentation without the financial assistance of Weber State’s Zoology Department and the Office of Undergraduate Research.
I have done many things that I did not know I was capable of before my research work at Weber State. I have formed strong connections with students and faculty that I hope to stay in touch with for many years to come, I laughed with colleagues in the pouring rain while trying to set up camp and conduct fieldwork, I have presented original research in our nation’s capital to world-renowned researchers, and soon, I will be leaving the country to study social rodents in Chile for a few months.
Colleges are places to have experiences. My advice to anyone in a STEM related major is to not be afraid to try new things. There are so many faculty and staff that willing to help you find your passion. There are many supportive clubs and organizations that can help you get out of your comfort zone. You too can do more than you think you are capable of by being engaged in all that Weber State has to offer.
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Friday: 6:30 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Saturday: 6:30 a.m. - 6 p.m. Sunday: Closed
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Weber State University
College of Science
1415 Edvalson St., Dept. 2501
Ogden, UT 84408-2501
Tracy Hall Science Center (TY)
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