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Baker senior Cordy Wesonig won the Best Undergraduate Presentation award at the Kansas Ornithological Society Conference this month. Her presentation and paper were titled “Early Results From Mating Population of Kestrels With Coloration Selection in Easter Kansas.”

The Kansas Ornithological Society is an organization for scientists and bird enthusiasts that was founded by former Baker University biology professor Dr. Ivan Boyd in 1949. At the annual scientific meeting held each fall, scientists and science enthusiasts from the region interact, network, and learn from each other. It provides an opportunity for students to make connections within the field.

“What winning this award means for me is that my work, practice, and hours spent working on my project are recognized,” Wesonig said. “I feel humbled to have received it because there were other presenters that were just as deserving.”

The American Kestrel is the smallest falcon in North America. Throughout the country, but particularly in eastern Kansas, the population is declining. Wesonig investigated the parental quality of American Kestrels, focusing on the males. She hypothesized that coloration was involved in the mating-selection process, specifically the width of a black, subterminal tail band. Parental quality was measured by male visitation rates to the nest and the delivery rate and kind of prey delivered to the monitored nest boxes.

“Cordy is the first recipient of the Best Undergraduate Presentation award from Baker in the six years I’ve been teaching at Baker,” said Dr. Scott Kimball, associate professor of biology. “Other recipients of this award have often been from larger universities with access to graduate-level research labs. Cordy’s enthusiasm for research and willingness to present it at a regional meeting were major factors in her winning the award and really help illustrate to the rest of the scientific community in Kansas that Baker is producing excellent young scientists.”

Wesonig’s hypothesis has not been supported so far, but she has data still to process and is excited about the future of this project. She’s also excited about her own future as a scientist and the award gives her confidence as she looks forward to graduate school.

“While it is nice to receive an award, I plan on using this accomplishment as a reminder to continue to strive.” she said.

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