2019 by Amanda Whispell

ABOUT ME

I have wanted to be a scientist for as long as I can recall.  As a child I spent my days running around my backyard, trying to capture ‘specimens’ so that I could practice my identification skills and observe their behavior.  My interests have matured a lot since those days, and now I enjoy asking questions about those 'specimens' and finding ways to answer them.

My very first solo research project was completed during my study abroad at James Cook University in Queensland, Australia in 2003.  This project focused on monitoring and recording the aggressive and territorial behaviors exhibited by green tree ants, Oecophylla smaragdina.  The research included a detailed behavioural analysis as well as the creation of a surrogate nest and colony.  

During my fourth year at URI, I was also employed as a student technician at URI's Graduate School of Oceanography.  While working as a technician I was trained to identify numerous zooplankton species - specifically copepods.  I am able to identify, sex, and determine the stage of numerous copepod species.  I was also given the opportunity to work on a project in conjunction with NOAA, and thus I was able to participate in a one week specimen collection trip on George's Bank off the east coast of the US.

I am also trained and have hands on experience working with avian species. I spent one summer working at Fiskerierket, a Swedish government administrative authority for conservation and utilization of fishery resources that has since ended, in Älvkarleby, Sweden where I volunteered on a project that aimed to determine the predatory impact the Great Cormorant (Phalacracorax carbo) was having on the local fishing industry. During this time I was required to monitor the birds, as well as collect their pellets for examination.  We also did nest and egg counts so that we were able to establish the population size and the predation rates on the birds themselves. 

My favourite pastimes include travelling, camping, hiking, diving, birding, frogging, painting/drawing, vegetarian cooking/baking, and macrophotography.  I do biological illustrations, mostly invertebrates, however I am willing to work on other projects if given the opportunity.  Please free to contact me if you would like to hire me for illustration purposes.

My next research experience was undertaken during my fourth year as an undergraduate student at the University of Rhode Island.   My research focused on Northern Diamondback Terrapins (Malaclemys terrapin), and the feasibility of founding a new breeding population at the mouth of the Narrow River in Naragansett, Rhode Island.  This unpublished research was presented at the 2004 Rhode Island Natural History Survey - "Foundation of a New Breeding Population of Northern Diamondback Terrapins, Malaclemys terrapin terrapin on the Narrow River in Narragansett, Rhode Island."

Cave diving in 2003  in the Whitsunday Islands, in Queensland, Australia (I'm on the left!)

Vigo, our cat, loves damselflies and science too, and he's always available to help when I need some assistance with my research... especially when it involves keeping an eye (or a tooth or two if I'm not paying attention) on living critters.