Tara Capel

Briefly describe your applied learning experience

Since my sophomore year, I have been an active participant in the Integrated Ecosystem Health Lab at UNCW. We study how conservation impacts humans and non-human primates, whether those affects be physiological, social, emotional, etc. I have worked alongside Dr. Carolyn Jost-Robinson during the preparation of several publications (still in prep). I spent Summer 2017 in South West Region, Cameroon as well. I lived in the rain forests of Korup National Park and the surrounding villages. Then, I spent an additional five weeks at the Limbe Wildlife Center. I worked with a variety of non-human primates in a veterinary setting and collected data on Mandrillus leucophaeus (the drill).

Did you receive any grants or other funding for your applied learning experience?
Scholarship or Fellowship
How did you get involved in this applied learning experience and what did you hope to gain from it?

A trip to the Duke Lemur Center initially exposed me to the world of primatology. From that moment on I have been attached to Dr. Robinson's lab and research. Throughout my applied learning experience I have developed a love and appreciation for conservation and non-human primates. Eventually, I hope to continue my education to the doctoral level, focusing on similar work.

What did you gain from this experience? What was challenging? What did you learn?

By participating in these learning experiences I have found my preferred sector of academia. I have also created connections with a variety of amazing professionals who are willing to help me as I progress. Challenges include everything from enormous amounts of reading to the occasional lack of water while living in Africa. These moments are hard to deal with at the time. Looking back though, the days that I was covered in three-day old dirt, assisting with routine cage cleaning, or emergency stitches, are the best memories I have made so far.

In what way will this experience make you a more viable candidate when you are seeking a job or applying for graduate study?

Having field experience as an undergraduate student always gives your resume or CV an advantage. It is also worthwhile to have some thesis-based writing experience under your belt. As I currently begin apply to graduate programs, I am slightly less stressed knowing that I am capable of completing the extreme and rigorous tasks I aim for. It is also beneficial that I already have hands-on knowledge about the non-human primates I could be working with in the future.