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Summer 2016 STRI/REU Interns Annika Salzberg and Kate Henderson in Action!

Posted on Aug 5, 2016 by in The OFI Blog |



This summer, students from all across the U.S. (funded by NSF) and Panama (funded by Panama’s Secretariat of Science, Technology and Innovation) took part in the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute’s Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program. Based at different STRI research facilities including Gamboa Campus, Naos Marine and Molecular Laboratory, Tupper Center, and Barro Colorado Island, the interns had the unique opportunity to work with a STRI mentor in Panama.

Throughout the summer, various REU interns have documented the highlights of the various projects on which they have been working, ranging from monkey behavior to butterfly genetics to bat friendships. In order to showcase their work, two of the interns, Annika Salzberg and Kate Henderson, started a blog. Researching together on a project titled, “Experimental MacroEcology: The kinetics of biodiversity in soil microbes and invertebrates,” Annika and Kate work with their mentors Jane Lucas and Dr. Michael Kaspari.

Annika Salzberg is a rising sophomore at Haverford College, majoring in Biology. This summer she studied the effects of antibiotic compounds on detritivorous and xylophagous invertebrates in a lowland tropical forest (Barro Colorado Island). Specifically, she looked at how termites, millipedes, and isopods responded to natural bactericide, synthetic bactericide, and synthetic fungicide.

Kate Henderson is a rising junior at Villanova University, with an Environmental Science major and a Biology minor.  This summer she studied how Azteca trigona ants influence species distribution and ant behavior in a lowland tropical forest.  She examined whether proximity to Azteca nests and their nutrient-rich refuse impacts growth and survival of Ochroma tree seedlings, and how other ants’ reactions to Azteca may drive species distribution in the forests of Barro Colorado Island.