Heather Kopsco

A crowdfunded biology project byHeather Kopsco


Hello, again!

Lab Note #1
May 21, 2014
Greetings Science Backers!

It has certainly been awhile since my last update, and for that I apologize. To make a very long story short, it took awhile to get the funds properly set up at Montclair State within the structure of the already-existing grant arm because Montclair has never worked with a crowd-funded project before. While it was a trying process (for an exciting reason!), we are now all-systems-go! I'm so grateful to all of you for making it possible for me to forge this path and pave the way for future students to support their research with crowdfunding. With your donation, you've officially made history at Montclair State University.

While the project did get a little delayed, we were still able to continue field collection over the winter. Here are some photos from our outings at the School of Conservation in Stokes State Forest.

Black-capped chickadee (Poecille atricapillus). I love these adorable little birds. 

Hairy woodpecker (Picoides villosus) (Proud to announce that none of us have holes in our hands despite this guy's best efforts :) ). Don't worry, I don't have him in a "choke hold." He's perfectly safe.

Blue jay (Cyanocitta cristata). While members of this species can be quite fiesty, the jays we handled were amazingly docile and made working with a larger bird than we normally do super easy. This one was extremely curious. 

White-breasted nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis). Nuthatches are one of my favorite birds of all time. Check out those crazy-long rear claws on either foot. That rear-facing toe is called the hallux (equivalent to our big toe) and allows these birds to hang and walk upside-down on tree trunks. So. cool.

Also in this photo you can see where I've wet the feathers around the elbow to visualize the basilic vein. This is the vein we puncture to collect blood using capillary tubes. 

Dark-eyed junco (Junco hyemalis). 

Our lab analysis of the blood and tick samples will begin in the next few weeks once the rest of the materials arrive at the University. I will provide a brief explanation of our lab protocol soon to get you up to speed on how we plan to look for Borrelia bacteria. In the meantime, we've received some really exciting press in the past several months regarding this project as well as on my motivations for pursuing this research project. Enjoy some great reads! 

Montclair State University magazine article (May 2014 issue)

Good Housekeeping article (<-- This is in the May 2014 issue and was featured on the front page of Yahoo!)

Thanks again for all of your help and support. Please feel free to shoot me an email (heather.kopsco@gmail.com) with questions or leave a comment here. Looking forward to updating you again soon!
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