Our lab has been buzzing with research activity this summer. We thought it would be fun to sit down with a few of the worker bees — undergraduates, high school interns, and research technicians — to ask them some questions and learn more about their work.

Name: Shelby Anderson

Degree: International Relations and French

Year in school: Post-Baccalaureate

Career goal: Physician

How long have you been working in our lab? 7 months

Describe your project/research: I am currently sorting and identifying arthropods that were collected in New York City, from the medians of Broadway to Central Park. We are currently trying to learn more about the effects of Hurricane Sandy on the arthropod populations. We’re also asking questions about the role of arthropods on leaf litter decomposition. Additionally, I’ve started my own project that looks at the dispersal of microbes by ants and cockroaches onto kitchen countertops.

What was the craziest thing that happened in the lab (or field) this season? While doing research in New York City medians this gentleman, who closely resembled Vin Diesel, crossed four lanes of heavy traffic to tell us that he was “The Nature Guy of New York City.” Another time I was using an aspirator to collect ants, and one guy asked me if I was eating something off of the rocks.

Sometimes scientists get inspiration from the strangest places, where do you get inspiration? My cats. I am curious about how they affect the ecology of my home, especially in regards to controlling (or contributing to) the populations of insects and microbes. Right now I’m looking at the microbes on kitchen counters – while I don’t let my cats on my counters, I am (intentionally) putting ants there to see what microbes they carry. We spend time worrying about what’s on the bottom of our cat’s feet, but don’t often think about what could be on insects’ feet.