Is the first post always the hardest?  I have been brainstorming ideas of how to start for almost a week; do I introduce myself, go straight for the science, pretty pictures?  For some reason, trying to come up with something to put my foot in the door of blogging on WordPress (I’ve used blogger before, but WP seems much more official) has been a challenge.  I think the logical place to start with is my name.

My name is Natalia Maass.  Like it?  My parents gave it to me for my birthday.  I’m from New York, Long Island born and raised.  I am currently attending the University of Scranton, pursuing a B.S. in biology on track to graduate in 2015.  After that I’ll be going to graduate school…somewhere..doing something…researching…for science.  I have many interests; courtship, conversation, ecology, reproduction morphology, mate choice…the list goes on.  For now, let’s ignore what I’m doing with my future, (because that’s what I’ve been doing) and talk about my present science.

At The U* I research with Dr. Robert Smith, my advisor/inspiration/all around great guy.  He is a behavioral ecologist and most of his research is related to bird migration, stopover ecology, and catbirds. For my sophomore and junior years, I need research on Common Yellowthroats, an adorable species of warbler that is a migrant to NEPA. My project was the assessing variability in feather coloration by gender and indices of immune function or more simply, I was interested in if the coloration of tail feathers  were indicators of the birds gender and health.  Long story short for my results: tail feathers cannot do this.  For the long story, check out the poster linked below I made for The U’s celebration of student scholars.  As for my senior year, I am not sure what my research will entail.

Poster_Revised

My other research focus is on bee flies.  For the summers of 2013 and 2014 I interned for Dr. Michelle Trautwein, fly phylogeneticist/awesome boss/granter of amazing opportunities. Michelle’s research is in evolutionary relationships of flies, including the noble and understudied bee fly.  I did not do any work with evolutionary relationships (not exactly my interest), instead I became extremely good at fly identification.  My internship with her is somewhat of a funny story.  Spring of 2013 I applied to an internship at the Museum of Natural Sciences and didn’t hear back, but I had found out she was interested in my application.  A couple emails later, I’m going to Raleigh for the summer to identify bee flies, not knowing what a bee fly is and having zero entomological experience.

That changed by the end of the summer.  In 2013 I identified bee flies from North America, Chile, Argentina, and a couple from Madagascar.  2013 I had indentifed a new species from Madagascar and started a paper on it!  It still isn’t published (we’re working on it) but when it is, I will post it here.  2014 I came back to identify more bee flies from Madagascar, and that has resulted in a possible eight new flies (potentially even more).  I can’t give you anything concrete yet, but hopefully we have many many new species.

I now conclude my first post here on Natalia Does Science. This is just the basics of what I do and my science.  I’m sure over time I’ll write more about my life and adventures (including my first trip below the Equator!) in the crazy world of science.  I leave you with my new favorite photograph of myself, please admire  the majesty and wanna be entomologist nature.

*The U is the hip term for the University of Scranton

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About Natalia Maass

Current graduate student at Eastern Kentucky University (2017) pursuing a Master's of Science in Biology. Talk nerdy to me.

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