Tick Research Update 1

At 6:30 A.M., I roll out of bed, don on research gear, grab a Clif Bar, and make the short walk to the Integrated Science Center. Tucked away on the third floor of the ISC is the Applied Conservation and Ecological Research Lab (lovingly dubbed ACER). Our laboratory easily accommodates 18 undergraduate students during the school year and 9 field colleagues during the summer. Although William and Mary is typically more tranquil during the summer sessions, ACER continues to be a hub of activity. A fellow Monroe, Courtney leads an investigative group that follows frog migration. Two graduate students pursue natural shoreline research. And I have joined up with two fellow lab member to form the William and Mary ACER Tick Team to investigate the prevalence of Ehrlichia chaffeensis. 

            Unfortunately, it quickly became evident that there would be no time to complete tick DNA analysis during the summer. That analysis would require daily indoor lab work that would take time away from the short viable season of tick collection: late May to early August. As a result, we strove to change our approach in our research method and made some quick edits. Our team’s revised objectives were simple: collect ticks, fill out intricate data sheets, observe weather patterns, track deer prevalence, and enjoy the beautiful outdoors of the Virginia and middle peninsula. We overcame obstacles such as heavy rainfall, rough terrain, mountain biking while carrying field equipment, and the humid heat of Williamsburg. This summer, we complete these goals, and in the next upcoming blogs, I can’t wait to share the data that we have collected!

Finally, a special thanks to the ACER lab for their continual support and dedication to undergraduate research! This project would not have been possible without the support of Professor Leu and the generosity of the William and Mary Charles Center.