DBS Undergraduate Student Profiles

Kayla Secrest

Kayla Secrest delivering baby in Uganda

Kayla holding a baby after assisiting with a C-Section in Uganda

Major
Human Biological Sciences
Minor(s)
None
Hometown
Sulphur Springs, Montana
Scholarships, Funding, and Awards
Donald M. Helter Pre-Med Scholarship, 2015-2016
Bonhomme Scholarship, 2014-2015
Kaplan Course Recipient, Spring 2015
Poverello Center Volunteer of the Month, July 2014
Academic and Research Interests
Kayla is a senior at UM with an Associates of Arts and Sciences with a certificate in Radiologic Technology from Missoula College. She was a member of the Global Grizzlies program in 2015 and recently traveled to Uganda where she spent two months volunteering at a rural hospital. She will continue to work with the Global Grizzlies program as a mentor, will be a TA for Chemistry 141 and an Anatomy and Physiology cadaver lab this fall. She is currently pursuing medical school, in the middle of the yearlong application process. Kayla has already applied to 13 different medical schools across the nation.
Other Interests
Being from small town Montana, Kayla's interests include hunting, camping, hiking, fishing and anything outdoors.

Mariah McIntosh

Mariah at Iron Mountain

Mariah packing ice into a field site in the Oregon Cascades to collect tissue samples of Mimulus guttatus

Major
Organismal Biology and Ecology
Minor(s)
Climate Change Studies, Wilderness Studies
Hometown
Corvallis, Oregon
Scholarships, Funding, and Awards
Morris B. Myerowitz Memorial Scholarship, Autumn 2015
Davidson Honors College Presidential Leadership Scholarship, Autumn 2013 though Spring 2017
Davidson Honors College Spring Undergraduate Research Funding, Spring 2015
Sigma Xi Grant-In-Aid, Spring 2015
Academic and Research Interests
Mariah is currently working on an undergraduate research project exploring the interactions between arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) and Mimulus guttatus, the Common Yellow Monkey Flower under the guidance of Dr. Lila Fishman (OBE) and Dr. Ylva Lekburg (MPG Ranch). She is interested in ecology, particularly studying human-influenced ecological problems and their solutions. After graduating from UM, Mariah plans to pursue a PhD in ecology or conservation biology, focusing on finding smart solutions to problems caused by human interactions with the environment.
Other Interests
Mariah enjoys running, biking, hiking, and any other self-propelled method of exploring the outdoors. She also loves to cook, eat, grow and preserve her own food, and play with dogs.

Yu Xia

Yu Xia

Yu presenting her research on autism at the University of Idaho

Major
Human Biological Sciences
Minor(s)
English Literature
Hometown
Sishui, China
Scholarships, Funding, and Awards
John S. O'Dell Scholarship, 2014-2015
Academic and Research Interests
Three years ago, Yu transferred to the University of Montana from a Chinese university and changed her major from English Language and Literature to Human Biology. In her sophomore year at UM, she began to volunteer in Dr. Mark Grimes’s neuroblastoma lab. She spent the following summer at Idaho State University as an INBRE fellow, investigating the etiology of autism with Dr. Michael A. Thomas. Yu am currently working with Dr. Scott Wetzel’s lab here at UM in the area of T cell biology. In the future, she plans continue working in the field of immunology.
Other Interests
Yu also enjoys cooking, reading, camping, and meandering around Missoula.

Rachel Dickson

Rachel Bees

Rachel in full bee protective gear

Major
Organismal Biology and Ecology, Environmental Studies 
Minor(s)
Spanish
Hometown
Missoula, Montana
Scholarships, Funding, and Awards
Davidson Honors College Presidential Leadership Scholarship, Autumn 2013 though Spring 2017
Goldwater Scholarship, 2015-2016
Rhodes Enhancement Scholarship, 2015-2016
Academic and Research Interests
Rachel's past research has focused on the spatial distribution and behavior of honeybees. She will expand her research this spring in the Patagonian region of Argentina, where she will be studying an ecosystem where the invasive European bumblebee, Bombus terrestris, is disrupting the preexisting harmonious mutualism between hummingbird pollinator Sephaniodes sephaniodes and native Patagonian plant Fushia magellinica. She will be researching the reproductive consequences of nectar robbing by B. terrestris on F. Magellinica. Furthermore, she will study how the behavior of B. terrestris influences the foraging behavior of S. sephaniodes. Rachel believes that gaining a deep ecological understanding is the first step to approaching the current environmental crisis.

In spring 2015, Rachel was awarded a two-year Goldwater scholarship from the Berry Goldwater Excellence in Education Foundation, the top national award for undergraduate research in science, math, and engineering.  She was also fortunate to win the Rhodes Enhancement Scholarship from the College of Humanities and Sciences for the 2015-2016 academic year. Thanks to these scholarships, Rachel will be able expand her research internationally and dedicate a full semester to field work.
Other Interests
Rachel is a native to the mountains and rivers of Missoula, where she fell in love with science. Rachel considers herself an environmental activist, artist, pianist, and enthusiast of outdoor sports. 

 

Kalene Kuntz

Kalene Kuntz

Kalene enjoying the outdoors. 

Major
Biochemistry, Human Biology
Hometown
Missoula, Montana
Scholarships, Funding, and Awards
Bernice A. Gleed Scholarship
Academic and Research Interests
Kalene is a senior studying biochemistry and human biology. She is planning to attend dental school next fall Kalene currently works as a biological science technician at the Rocky Mountain Research Station Fire Lab.  Working on research projects at the Fire Lab has allowed Kalene to expand her research horizons beyond human health. Plus, she gets to light things on fire and get paid for it. 
Other Interests
Kalene was born and raised in Missoula and is reluctant to leave for the next four years, as she doesn't think city life is for her.  Kalene loves hiking in the Missoula area with her fiancé and their dog and road tripping to national parks. Kalene also enjoys volunteering in the communit. She is currently the president of the Missoula Rotaray Club. 

Jennifer Nelson

Jennifer Nelson

Jennifer enjoying field work

Major
Wildlife Biology and Mathematics
Hometown
Juneau, Alaska
Scholarships, Funding, and Awards
Montana Institute on Ecosystems Undergraduate Intern Grant
Philip Wright Memorial Research Award
Irene Evers Competitive Undergraduate Research Scholarship from the College of Forestry and Conservation
North American Bluebird Society (NABS) Grant
Academic and Research Interests
Jennifer's research considers how the stress hormone corticosterone affects life history strategies in birds. She is currently working with Dr. Creagh Breuner and PhD student Sara Berk. For her senior thesis, she is posing the following question: In nesting habitats where insect availability is lower, do Mountain Bluebird (Sialia currocoides) mothers prioritize their own condition over that of their chicks? Ultimately, Jennifer plans to get a Masters Degree and would like to work with amphibians.