Melanie was awarded a CURO summer research fellowship to work on a project that was jointly supervised by Dr. Ezenwa and Dr. Davis. The project focused on the effects of stress on immune function in birds (house finches), and incorporated two measures of immune function - counts of white blood cells and bacteria-killing ability of blood. With the help of two other undergraduates, Melanie captured finches behind the ecology building, then obtained blood samples before and after holding the birds captive for 2 hours, which induces a short-term stress response. Importantly, some of the finches were infected with a bacterial disease, allowing Melanie to examine how infection modifies the effects of stress on immune function. Melanie presented the results of her project at the 2012 CURO Symposium.
Photo of Melanie examining agar plates made from finch blood and bacteria colonies