A Week in the Life – Amanda Curtis

Amanda is a second year PhD student in PEEC working in the Larson Lab. Her project focuses on using environmental DNA (eDNA) as a tool for conservation.

What have you been up to this past week?

This week I returned from a wicked fun trip to Snake Road (more below) and spent much of Monday and Tuesday preparing for my herpetology lab. In addition, I’ve been working to finalize plans for some salamander field work I’ll be starting soon. Plus, I’m trying to finish some occupancy models analyses and writing up my first chapter of my PhD that we will hopefully submit in a few months. I’ve also been working on manuscript revisions from some amphibian-Hg work from when I worked at Dartmouth College. Additionally, I’m working on optimizing a couple eDNA assays and running qPCRs. I took some time to procrastibake for the Larson Lab meeting (it’s someone’s birthday) and in the Larson Lab, I take celebrations seriously. Lastly, I will end my week by taking our herpetology students on their last field trip.

What’s a fun thing you did this past week?

We (Dr. Mark Davis and I) took our herpetology students on a field trip to southern IL and the infamous Snake Road! Although the weather was kind of crappy and we did not see any venomous snakes (BOO!), it was herp heaven and I could have just stayed there. Once you start herping, it’s hard to stop! But it was a really rewarding experience to have the students see the species that we’ve been learning about in a natural environment and in their beautiful colors (the preserved specimens don’t do them justice).

Night herping and my first cave sal!
Is there anything cuter?
THE Snake Road

What are you looking forward to for next week?

I’m really excited to head home to Pennsylvania to see my family and celebrate my grandmother’s 97th birthday! My grams is a cute, sassy lady that thought I was done with my PhD last summer when I finished fieldwork in Alabama (I’m a first-gen student, so my family does not understand much of what I do). I can’t wait to see my nieces and nephew, to help out on our farm, to see our doggo Nala, and to see Judas Priest in concert!!!! (Fun fact: Each one of my PhD chapter titles is a truly terrible pun of a Rock’N’Roll song.)

Curtis Farms
Me and my grams post-Jeopardy, doing a word search.
Am I also a 97 year old?

A view of your week…

I think I’m funny. eDNA can be amazing, but it can also be frustrating.
Slimy salamander from our class trip to southern Illinois.
Thanks to assistance from my labmate and my advisor, I’m kind of proud of this figure. But seriously, no one needs to know how long this took me to make.