Project Report

My stay in Australia has been valuable in contributing a key piece of research to my dissertation project, which concerns sexual selection in the peacock spider, Maratus volans. The EAPSI program gave me a unique opportunity to focus intensively on experiments, and as I am in the beginning stages of my PhD, this experience will truly serve as excellent preparation for my future scientific career. In fact, I already feel more confident in my ability to conceive, plan and execute successful experiments as well as interpret my results in a broad evolutionary context. Additionally, I know that the quality of my research has been strengthened by the collaborations facilitated through this program. My department at my home institution does not have many people studying behavioral ecology, and participating in the EAPSI program allowed me to interact daily with students, post-docs, and faculty renowned for their work on animal behavior. I also had the opportunity to work with some really great undergraduates from UNSW and Macquarie University who served as my assistants at different points during my stay. It was nice to provide others with the same type of hands on research experiences that really got me interested in pursuing graduate studies. Overall, I feel great about the relationships I've built throughout the EAPSI program and I am excited about working with many of these individuals again in the future. In addition, while working within the Evolutionary Ecology of Sexual Reproduction research group at the University of New South Wales I had access to excellent research facilities including field stations and animal rearing/monitoring rooms that are not available to me at my home institution, but greatly improved the quality of the research I was able to conduct. The work I did under my EAPSI tenure will provide insights into the factors driving decision-making, signal evolution and species diversification. I have definitely collected enough data to allow me to get at least one publication from the work I did this summer and already presented some of my findings at a major conference specific to my field this fall. Additionally, no formal research has been done on this unique Australian endemic genus, hence, Australia will greatly benefit from my collaboration with the Australian research groups of Dr. Brooks and Dr. Herberstein. In summary, my experiences working with Australian researchers has only solidified my desire to pursue collaborative research projects as often as possible.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Office of International and Integrative Activities (IIA)
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Carter Kimsey
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Girard Madeline B
United States
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