Norris Center Blog

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    What the Randy Morgan Insect Collection Tells Us About Lycaenid Butterflies in Santa Cruz County

    August 5, 2019

    Norris Center student Alexandra Ahmad summarizes both the incredible Randy Morgan Insect Collection, and her senior research work on how lycaenid butterfly diversity changed over the 10 years that Randy Morgan collected insects in Santa Cruz.

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    Serpentine Endemic Plants: Understanding Endemism in Stressful Soils

    July 22, 2019

    UCSC EEB students undergrad Nate Blackmore and graduate student Shelley Sianta highlight some of their work understanding what drives some plant species to survive, and even thrive, on harsh serpentine soils. Serpentine soil contains some of the highest levels of plant endemism anywhere in California, and their work underscores how some species might have adapted to this harsh soil.

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    An Ancient Bison From the Russian Far East

    July 8, 2019

    EEB undergraduate, and Norris Center Student Award winner Christian Lowson talks about his research investigating a mysterious ten thousand year-old bison from far Eastern Russia. Christian extracted and analyzed ancient DNA from this bison to determine what species it was most closely related to. His results have implications for why bison diversity mysteriously declined across the world within the last ten thousand years.

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    Combating Climate Change with Redwood Conservation

    July 2, 2019

    Griswold Fellow and ENVS undergrad Lilianne de la Espriella sampled soil in redwood forests across California to see how much carbon redwood forest soil holds. Lilianne talks about what her findings mean for saving redwoods and lessening the effects of climate change, and about her experiences doing outreach about climate change around Santa Cruz

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    Examining Monarch Mortality: A Study in Declining Beauty

    June 24, 2019

    UCSC undergraduate Sara Ford Oades, along with partners in Groundswell Ecology, examined hundreds of monarch butterflies to attempt to determine how they died. By studying causes of monarch mortality, Ford Oades hoped to find out why California's monarch population is declining so precipitously.

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    Making Nature Accessible: Engagement through Observation and Conversation

    May 21, 2019

    Webster Fellow Maria Velazquez describes her work creating activities and learning spaces to help students from the Neuva Vista Community Center engage with nature and science. Her work both helped strengthen partnerships between the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History and the Nueva Vista Community Center, and also helped dozens of students engage with nature from their local Community Center.

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    Behind the Scenes at a Natural History Museum: Preservation and Curation

    May 14, 2019

    Webster Fellow, and longtime Norris Center intern, Brian Johnson shares insights about his time working behind the scenes with the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History's collections. He focuses on a topic near and dear to the Norris Center's heart: preservation and curation.

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    Sharing Resources Promotes Biodiversity at Fort Ord Natural Reserve

    May 7, 2019

    Norris Center Student Award winner Gozong Lor summarizes her fascinating research on browsing habits of rabbits and wood rats at Fort Ord Natural Reserve. Zina investigated whether wood rats and rabbits compete or coexist when eating similar manzanita resources in the maritime chaparral of Fort Ord.

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    The Randall Morgan Insect Collection at the Norris Center for Natural History

    April 30, 2019

    Norris Center student Alex Ahmad describes the history and use of the Randy Morgan Insect Collection as part of her senior project studying changes in butterfly phenology using Randy's collection.

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    Salamander Coloration Versus Predator Detection: a Race for Survival

    April 9, 2019

    Some salamanders at Fort Ord are bright pink instead of their usual camouflaged brown. Using hundreds of clay model salamanders, Caitlyn Rich investigates whether this coloration might be more common at Fort Ord because it helps the salamanders blend into the pale sand.

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    Community Volunteer Highlight: Al Keuter

    March 28, 2019

    Luba Kaplanskaya interviews Al Keuter, a long-time Norris Center community member and lead volunteer for the Herbarium group. Al serves as a mentor for many students at the Norris Center and studies oaks to show that natural history can be just as valuable as genetic sequencing.

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    US/Mexico Biodiversity Border Project: Engaging the Nature Culture Divide with Participatory Art

    March 13, 2019

    Norris Center undergraduate Alejandra Rueda, and Norris Center graudate student Juniper Harrower highlight their work using biodiversity art to bridge cultural divides across the US/Mexico border.

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    Making the Dead Look Alive: Behind the Scenes of Taxidermy

    January 30, 2019

    Luba Kaplanskaya interviews three students that are currently interning for Alex Krohn under the taxidermy internship. She asks them about their experiences and explores reasons why taxidermy can be considered a valuable asset.

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    Using Feathers to Investigate Cross-Seasonal Effects of Nutrition on Important Winter Traits

    December 19, 2018

    Dylan Pereira describes his project determining whether the colors, and body size of Golden Crowned Sparrows at the UCSC Arboretum are a result of the food they eat. His fascinating research was funded by the Norris Center, and is a part of the ongoing 15-year study of Golden-Crowned Sparrows at the Arboretum headed by Dr. Bruce Lyon.

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    Helping the People of Ulithi in this Rapidly Changing World

    August 27, 2018

    Charlotte Grenier describes her experiences on the Micronesian island of Ulithi where she worked with locals to improve fisheries management, and understand patterns of ocean trash, among other projects. Charlotte is a Norris Center Art and Science Resident, and winner of the Norris Center Student Project Award.