Baker junior Andrew Emanuels, won the undergraduate poster division at the 148th Kansas Academy of Science Annual Meeting held April 1-2, 2016, at McPherson College. His poster, Tardigrades in the Canopy: Living With Red Tree Voles in Oregon, is based on research he did during the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates program last summer at Baker University.

During the summer program on tardigrades, Emanuels and other REU participants studied the nests of red tree voles. The voles build their nests on the branches of the Douglas fir and secure them using strands of lichen, the tardigrade’s habitat.

“This poster was by no means a one-person project. The researchers at the Biodiversity Research Collective in Oregon provided us with samples and data from the trees they had climbed, I processed all of the samples and mounted all of the tardigrades on slides, Dr. Miller [REU principal investigator and coordinator of student research in biology at Baker University] and I identified each of the 167 specimens and did simple statistical analysis, and Jessie Miller of the University of Wisconsin at Madison helped us put together more complex statistical analyses,” Emanuels said.

The research documents 12 species of tardigrades in the nests, seven of which are new to Oregon, and documents the highest a tardigrade has been recorded above the ground: more than 120 feet. “It’s a real testimony to what can be accomplished in just a few short months when researchers collaborate,” he added.

“I knew that my collaborators and I had done some really interesting and impressive work; however, there were many other posters that had very interesting information as well,” Emanuels said. “It felt amazing to be recognized for the work that my collaborators and I had done. Many times, the research that is done on tardigrades and other microorganisms is overlooked when compared to genetic or medical research, and it’s an honor to have our research held in high esteem.”

Another of the REU students, Laura Tibbs from Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, finished second in the undergraduate oral presentation competition using data generated last summer during the program.

“It was a good day for tardigrades and for Baker,” Miller said.

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