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May 2, 2023

Student view: A passion to protect, conserve bird populations

Annaliese Singer is a senior majoring in environmental biology, zoology and political science pre-law from Howell, Michigan, and a College of Natural Science Dean’s Research Scholar.

Analiese Singer

From a very young age, I have been fascinated by birds. I knew that when I entered college, I wanted to use my studies to build a future career around the animals I loved so much. However, I was still determining what I specifically wanted to pursue. I could go into research, zookeeping, exotic veterinary medicine, conservation work, etc. There were just so many available options to choose from.

Luckily, Michigan State University provided me the chance to engage in a potential career path and share my love of birds with the community around me.

When I was accepted to Michigan State’s Honors College, I was offered a professorial assistantship to conduct research under a professor of my choosing. Research had always been a potential job prospect I wanted to pursue because of my desire to enhance protection for our feathered friends. I was excited to gain firsthand experience in this career field. After looking through hundreds of MSU faculty profiles in search of a professor that matched my area of interest, I came to work for Catherine Lindell, an associate professor in the Department of Integrative Biology.

During my freshman and sophomore years, I worked on an independent research project with guidance from Dr. Lindell. While working on the project, one thing that stuck out to me was how a global database of bird sightings could vastly improve the study of birds and their conservation priorities. I had used this database, known as eBird, for my own birdwatching trips, and knew it was beneficial as an electronic catalog of birds.

However, through my research at Michigan State, I soon realized that this nifty birdwatching database had a wealth of opportunities that could change how animal research is conducted. For instance, eBird is much more cost-effective than traditional surveys, and anyone with access to the Internet can access the database. Using this tool in my project allowed me to understand better how citizen science data can improve conservation practices aimed at saving the world’s at-risk species.

After finishing my research, one major issue still lingered for me. I wanted to allow my research the potential to create change in the field of ecology and conservation biology. However, aside from publishing my work in a scientific journal, I was unsure how to achieve my goal.

Luckily, with the Dean’s Research Scholars Program, my research could be shared with a broad audience of MSU alums. I am so thankful that the College of Natural Science and the Dean’s Research Scholars could provide me with a platform to educate members of the public about a lifelong passion of mine. Through my work, I hope to inspire others to deepen their appreciation for birds and find ways to support their conservation.

This story originally appeared on the College of Natural Science website.

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