Our new undergraduate research assistants

Micah Miles

Third year, Banneker-Key Scholar, concentration in Wildlife Ecology and Management

I fell in love with animals at a very young age though dozens of wildlife documentaries, volumes of nature books, and copious visits to the National Zoo. As an Environmental Science and Policy major I seek to better understand the ways in which animals rely on their surroundings and use this ecological understanding to minimize anthropogenic biodiversity decline and habitat fragmentation. In the last few years I have read books about bats and visited a bat museum in Costa Rica so when the opportunity to study social behaviors in vampire bats presented itself, I flew at the chance. Working as an undergraduate research assistant also provides a comfortable setting for my first attempts at my own individual research. Since I plan on attending graduate school, developing research experience is a top priority. After receiving a master’s degree I want to work in wildlife management, functioning as an intermediate between the science of animal interactions and the policy that shapes our influences on their survival. In my free time, I enjoy books, classic movies, and questing through D.C. in search of the perfect bakery.

Lauren Leffer

First year, Banneker-Key Scholar, specialization in Ecology and Evolution

What are your main interests? Outside of eating, breathing, and sleeping I enjoy studying evolutionary biology and animal behavior (specifically animal cognitive ability, and social structure). I am also interested in environmental conservation, creative writing, and entomology.

Why did you choose to apply for this position as an undergraduate research assistant? As an incoming undergraduate freshman, I knew I wanted to start making research connections right away, and to get some idea of what I’d actually be in for, pursuing a career in biology research/academia. I was already very familiar with (and interested in) the existing research on vampire bat social behavior (because like any normal teenager, I spend significant amounts of my free time reading biology publications), and as soon as I saw the want-ad on the daily list-serve, I had to apply. It’s still pretty hard to wrap my head around the fact that I’m working on the type of research I’ve been reading about for years, and I couldn’t be more excited to have this chance.

What do you plan to do after college? I plan to enter the cycle of never-ending graduate programs, with aims of performing evolutionary biology and animal behavior research. I’d also like to travel a decent amount.

What do you do for fun? Science, cook, run, hike, go outside, read, write, draw, and talk to people.

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