As a biology faculty member located at the Uintah Basin Regional Campus, my primarily role is to teach undergraduates which I find very fulfilling. To make the best use of my research time, I choose projects that provide meaningful research experiences for the undergraduate students at our campus. My projects also are intended to complement the research of local faculty as well as to provide needed data to local natural resource managers.
White-tailed prairie dog population genetics The multi-agency managed black-footed ferret reintroduction program is central to the current projects underway. Black footed ferrets are endangered, and their survival depends on a healthy prairie dog ecosystem. Resource managers need more information on the dynamics of diseases and populations in these ecosystems in order to successfully manage the reintroduction. Our collaborative research projects allow undergraduates to contribute useful data to this cause. Currently, undergraduate researchers and I are using microsatellite markers to characterize the population structure and dynamics of white-tailed prairie dogs. The data are the first to describe the genetics of this species of prairie dog.