During the fall of 2020, I took BIOL 251, Intro to Ecology and Evolution. As a part of the lab of that class, we quantified the changes in average life expectancy pre and post-1950. To collect data, the class was split into groups and designated a section of the local cemetery to record the birth and death dates of every individual buried. From there I was able to analyze the obtained quantitative data and use excel to determine the average lifespans of males and females pre and post-1950 and create a survivorship curve per age interval of both males and females pre and post-1950. This was my first experience analyzing large quantities of data and creating multiple figures from them. I wrote a research paper describing my analysis of the data.
In developmental biology, BIOL 360, as a part of the cell and molecular pillar of biology, we performed an experiment to obtain quantitative data from testable models involving the development of different organisms. My group decided on testing the developmental effects of water quality on daphnia. We specifically quantified the heart rate of daphnia exposed to different water sources in Farmville, Virginia by examining them under a microscope since they are transparent. We measured the heart rate of the daphnia in each experimental condition multiple times a week for us to analyze the change in the average heart rate. As a whole, my group developed the testable model required to obtain accurate results for the experiment. This allowed us to obtain reliable data to add to our poster for Longwood’s research day. I enjoyed this experiment overall and it allowed me to grow in my abilities in analyzing quantitative data.
In BIOL 475, Animal Behavior, an upper-level course I took in the spring of 2022, I had the opportunity to work with live animals to observe and analyze their behavior over a period of time. This was one of my favorite courses I took during my time at Longwood because it was very interactive and I enjoyed the content overall. The second experiment we did in the lab portion of this class was to observe the change in behavior of male fiddler crabs as a result of an increase in temperature, ultimately attempting to mimic the overall increase in global temperature due to global warming. In this experiment, we measured the aggressive behavior of male fiddler crabs when exposed to an increase in temperature of 6 degrees Celsius. After obtaining all the data we analyzed it using statistical tests such as the Kruskal-Wallis test to determine the statistical significance of our results. I enjoyed this lab because I had not been required to use this specific data analysis test to determine the significance related to a specific group of results like this before. It challenged me to analyze the results more in-depth and in a different way than other classes had previously.
Overall I can see an improvement in my quantitative analysis abilities from my lower-level courses to my upper-level courses, especially when looking back at old artifacts! I find myself being able to quantify data more easily and able to come up with methods to measure data quicker because I have experience in many different methodologies in science.