Recent Summer Fellows

Undergraduate research: Seven Kent Island fellows from Bowdoin lived, studied, and created on the island for two months over the summer of 2019. Joining them were two undergraduates from Bucknell University and the University of Guelph—Brenna Prevelige and Eric Heisey.
The Canadian border reopened in August, 2021, allowing Kent Island to plan for its first cohort of undergraduate researchers for the summer of 2022 after a two-season hiatus.
Sylvia Bosco

Sylvia Bosco

Class of: 2019

Fellowship Focus: Reimagining humans' relationship to the environment 

Major(s): English, Environmental Studies

As a Kent Island artist-in-residence, Sylvia wrote a poetry collection in which she explored her evolving personal relationship with the non-human world. One of the questions she sought to answer through her writing was how can humans develop a positive relationship with the nonhuman world?

Sylvia found she had grown to perceive her relationship with the environment as inherently negative. As a human being, she could only expect to harm the non-human world. Her sense of environmental ethics was therefore a half-hearted effort to reduce this harm whenever the opportunity arose. x

But by failing to imagine a world in which humans interact positively and sustainably with other life, Sylvia says we exacerbate the modern spiral into ecological doom. Correcting this spiral will take a profound shift in the human understanding of their own capabilities, as well as a serious effort to rebuild our relationship with the environment.

Manny Coleman '22

Manny Coleman

Class of: 2022

Fellowship Focus: Impacts of research on storm petrels

Major(s): Neuroscience

Minor(s): Education

Manny was part of our Storm-petrel Squad and studied how our research on the long-lived seabirds—such as collecting blood samples and affixing GPS backpacks to them) affects the likelihood that a petrel egg hatches. 

Since repeated researcher disturbance has been found to increase nest abandonment and reduce hatching success in many bird species, Manny studied whether different levels of disturbance would have similarly detrimental effects on storm-petrels. This is a difficult study to conduct, as determination of whether or not a nest has been abandoned inherently requires some disturbance of the nest.

This data is very helpful for us as we work to minimize disturbance to all of the wildlife on Kent Island, but continue to collect invaluable data on these systems. We hope in the future that technology such as RFID tags will allow us to monitor which petrels are visiting which burrows each year with as little disturbance as possible.

Brie Cunliffe '22

Brie Cunliffe

Class of: 2022

Fellowship Focus: Artist-in-residence

Major(s): Government and Legal Studies, Environmental Studies

On Kent Island, Brie explored the power of story rooted in place. She worked in many genres, including flash fiction, short story, creative nonfiction essay, drama, and poetry. Her final portfolio, organized as a map, grouped works of different styles and themes by the places on the island they are tied to, as an attempt to communicate the complex and interconnected truth of Kent Island.

Some of Brie’s works were grounded in the history of the island; while others speculated on the uncertain trajectory of a future threatened by climate change and environmental devastation. Much of her work stemmed from the research other fellows were engaged in this summer: essays on fisheries, poems of island forests and pollinator surveys, short stories about burrowing storm petrels.

Brie says she “sought to explore the role of the landscapes that we walk through, the way they shape our sense of the world; the ways we see ourselves mirrored in them; the ways we coexist with or exploit their wealth; the ways we are changed by the beauty we witness. On a place like Kent Island, as we seek to better understand our world, whether through science or story, it is clear that all things are interconnected; my portfolio seeks to illustrate these ties.”

Jesse Dunn '20

Jesse Dunn

Class of: 2020

Fellowship Focus: Shell rot in Jonah crabs

Major(s): Biology

Minor(s): Earth and Oceanographic Science

Jesse Dunn was the 2019 Peter Cannell Fellow. During his Kent Island summer, Dunn investigated the impacts of shell rot disease on native Jonah crabs. Shell disease, an infection of the cuticle common to many crustaceans, has long been known to affect lobsters, with important commercial implications for the fishery. Recently a more aggressive form known as epizootic shell disease has appeared, possibly due to warming water.

Shell disease is not well documented in Jonah crabs, and it is unclear how the emergence of epizootic shell disease in lobster may be affecting crabs. In addition to monitoring the Kent island intertidal zone, he joined caretaker Russell Ingalls on his boat, pulling traps to estimate the prevalence of shell disease in subtidal Jonah crabs caught as bycatch in lobster traps.

Jesse found the prevalence of shell disease to be between 15 percent and 19 percent in lobster trap samples, and he also noted that shell disease was more common in male crabs and in shallow water. 

Neda Massapour '22

Neda Massapour

Class of: 2022

Fellowship Focus: Petrel egg size

Major(s): Biology

Minor(s): Sociology

Neda was a member of Team Storm Petrel and conducted an independent project on variation in petrel egg size. In other bird species, egg size is correlated with lay date, hatch date, and offspring survival. Neda examined the relationship between egg volume and lay date, hatch success, hatch date, adult size, and chick size.

After measuring 130 petrel eggs this summer, she found no significant correlations between egg size and lay date or adult size. Another Kent Island student, James O’Shea ’20, is expanding Neda’s study to examine changes in egg size across decades for his honors thesis.

This summer, Neda could always be found with a smile on her face and was one of our most consistently wonderful cooks.

Max Muradian '22

Max Muradian

Class of: 2022

Fellowship Focus: Forest regeneration

Major(s): Earth and Oceanographic, Environmental Studies

Max spent his summer surveying plots across Kent Island to understand how plant life is recovering since the eradication of snowshoe hares in 2007.

In 2008, Kent Island fellow Nathan Elliot ’09 surveyed plots across the entire island to set a baseline for forest succession immediately following the removal of hares. This summer, Max repeated Nathan’s study, revisiting 371 of his 100-square-meter plots and replicating his survey methods.

Max continued his study in the fall with Patty Jones to analyze his data and write up his results. He found that plots with sphagnum moss have more seedlings than areas without the moss. The moss may hold water and nutrients, enabling seedlings to germinate. He also discovered that across the island there is a greater diversity of understory plant species than in 2008. We look forward to surveying these plots again in another decade to see how they continue to change.

Hannah Scotch '22

Hannah Scotch

Class of: 2022

Fellowship Focus: Plant-pollinator network

Major(s): Neuroscience

Minor(s): Government and Legal Studies

Hannah led the initiation of data collection for Kent Island's plant-pollinator network project, a daunting task that required her to learn both plant and insect identification! The network is long-term research program requiring annual data collection. Each day with clement weather, Hannah packed up pollinator collecting kits and sent all of our summer fellows out in teams of two to collect insects on flowers all over the island.

Students brought back live insects in jars and samples of plants. Thanks to this project, all of our students learned to identify most of the flowering plants on the island, with help from Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide. Hannah then identified the insects. With this information, she did a fall independent study with Patty Jones and put together the first plant-pollinator network for Kent Island.

Hannah also tested the color learning abilities of five frequently captured insect species—wasps and  bumblebees—in the lab on Kent Island. She and Patty are working on writing a manuscript describing how learning abilities of flower-visiting insects shape and are shaped by their connectivity in the Kent Island plant-pollinator network.

 Eric Heisey '21

Eric Heisey

University of Geulph class of: 2021

Fellowship Focus: Savannah sparrow nesting project

Eric, an undergraduate student at the University of Guelph, is completing his honors thesis in the Norris lab, collecting data for Kent Island’s long-term savannah sparrow nesting project. Eric could be found most days working with PhD student Joey Burant, searching for nests and capturing sparrows to band them and record morphological measurements.

He also helped survey nearby Sheep and Hay Island for dispersing sparrows. The data collected this summer will be used in his honors thesis, where he will investigate how pre-breeding temperatures affect plasticity in egg laying date.

Eric is also an avid birder, and he recorded 131 bird species on Kent Island over a nine-week period. These observations were submitted to eBird, a citizen science database, to which decades of bird records from Kent Island have been submitted thanks in part to a recent effort by Brendan Murtha ’21  and Jeff Cherry ’79 to add Kent Island’s historical records to eBird.

Brenna Prevelige '20

Brenna Prevelige

Bucknell University class of: 2020

Fellowship Focus: Storm-petrel demographic data

Prevelige works in the lab of longtime Kent Island researcher Mark Haussmann and helped him collect storm-petrel demographic data. Her independent project was spearheading the preliminary deployment of accelerometers on storm-petrels to assist Mark and Kenyon College's Bob Mauck.

Although well understood in terms of breeding and nesting, little is known about petrel foraging behavior. Accelerometers have the potential to shed light on foraging behavior and energy expenditure. By using the vector of the dynamic body acceleration, energy expenditure can be calculated and paired with mass measurements of birds post-foraging to determine food obtained per energy cost.

This data, along with Haussmann lab analysis of oxidative stress, can determine the metabolic cost of flight and identify high-quality individuals who forage efficiently with minimal cost to self-maintenance, leading, presumably, to future reproductive success.