I’ve always been incredibly curious about the natural world and how it works, especially the animal kingdom. As a kid I would spend hours peeking under rocks, watching documentaries, and reading through wildlife encyclopedias. My entire childhood was focused around biological exploration, be it outside or in a book, so when I finally found out what “zoology” was in fifth grade, it immediately resonated with me, and it was then that I decided to become a zoologist. Although it was a vague plan at the time, my motivation only strengthened as I got older, ultimately leading me to apply for my bachelor’s degree in zoology at SUNY Oswego.
At university, I immediately jumped into a two-year long laboratory position as research assistant to Dr. Julien Bachelier, an evolutionary biologist and plant systematist. Following this, I began an animal ecology research assistantship to diversify my skillset in the field, first aiding in a study on the behavioral responses of white-footed mice and Northern short-tailed shrews to predation threat. The next year, I collaborated on a project which led to my first publication on same-sex courtship behaviors in fruit flies. Shortly thereafter, I travelled to Costa Rica with my research advisor, Dr. Maria Sagot, to help study the importance of group vocal behavior on roost-finding efficiency in Spix’s disc-winged bat. After Costa Rica, I worked for two months at the Bronx Zoo in New York City, and while it was fun, it helped me realize just how much I valued the intellectual rigor of research. So, when I returned to university, I was confident in my scientific and professional goals. I became a teaching assistant for a mammalogy course, which I found very rewarding, and I further conducted an independent undergraduate thesis on seasonal changes in beaver activity and the impact of beaver presence on diversity at an artificial pond ecosystem.
Understanding animal behavior at its core has always been my greatest passion, so I’m not surprised to find myself excitedly starting my PhD in Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology. I also look forward to working with Dr. Gerry Carter, and my plan is to follow up on his most recent work and look more closely at the formation and stability of vampire bat social bonds. Overall, I hope I can make significant contributions to the fields of behavioral ecology and biology, and one day pay it forward to the next generation of young curious naturalists who find themselves endlessly reading, watching documentaries, or peeking under rocks.
Imran Razik is a recipient of the Ohio State University Graduate Enrichment Fellowship. he is conducting experiments in Panama on whether oxytocin explains individual variation in how vampire bats respond to new group members.