I have had the great opportunity to work with several spectacular undergraduate field assistants. Each has provided me with remarkable help towards my dissertation and they've seemed to enjoy themselves in the meantime!

In loving memory
PROJECT: Ongoing natural selection on White Sands lizards

Karen worked in the Rosenblum lab on the relationship between the chytrid fungus and amphibian declines. As a reward for her stellar performance and good behaviour in the lab, Karen was invited to spend some time catching lizards in White Sands. Karen took to field work perfectly, and proved to us all that she was no MC1R mutant with her superb tanning skills. Karen is now helping with the analysis of field data and continues to be an active member of the Rosenblum-Harmon labs.

On the 14th of April, 2012, Karen Pohl passed away unexpectedly and suddenly due to the complications sustained from a stroke. Karen and I had become great friends since she worked with me in the field, and we often went to the gym together and danced the night away at the local live music venues. Although Karen's passing came as a shock to us all, her passion for her friends, nature, and charity continues to inspire those who knew her.

JACKIE HOWELLS (2012-present)
PROJECT: Ongoing natural selection on White Sands lizards

Jackie was the first undergraduate to come to the White Sands project from the University of California, Berkeley, where she is currently completing her undergraduate degree. Although she had never been to the Southwest before, Jackie adapted to the desert, and lizard-hunting wonderfully. Jackie also began her own project exploring habitat use and genetics of colour in the Fence Lizard. Jackie is looking forward to graduate school in the future, but for now is learning how to analyze her data and work in a genetics lab!

MIKKI BRINKMEYER (2011-present)
PROJECT: Ongoing natural selection on White Sands lizards; Ecomorphology of White Sands lizards

As an undergrad just finishing her first year, Mikki was the youngest assistant to go explore the White Sands desert. What she may have lacked in 'experience' she certainly made up for in enthusiasm. Mikki has worked in the Waits genetics lab since she began at the University of Idaho; however, she feels like she met her true calling in the field in New Mexico. Mikki is a natural hunter of the Lesser Earless Lizard (Holbrookia maculata), although occasionally fooled by the sly "Faux-brookia (clumps of lizard-shaped sand). Mikki was so keen on the desert and its dragons that she double-dipped as field assistant again in 2012! Currently, Mikki is helping out in the lab going through lizard barf for the trophic ecomorphology project.

PROJECT: Ongoing natural selection on White Sands lizards

Isaiah is a "Super Senior" undergraduate at the University of Idaho, in his final semester in the College of Natural Resources. Isaiah started work in the Rosenblum Lab in 2011 working on preparing slides of frog skin that had become infected with chytrid fungus. Isaiah was thrilled to come down to White Sands to work on the collaborative effort of capturing hundreds of little ectotherms squirming about the gypsum. Isaiah even collected preliminary data for his own project investigating thermal habitat use of the Earless Lizard. 

TRAVIS MORGAN (2011-2013)
PROJECT: Ongoing natural selection on White Sands lizards; Ecomorphology of White Sands lizards

Travis recently graduated from the University of Idaho. He started working in the field at White Sands in 2011. Travis became a lizard-capturing master; however he made some scaled-enemies in the field including one little fellow so-named "Nemisis," who eluded capture day after day after day (and finally succumbed to a team effort with Simone). After the summer, Travis helped measure and analyze sprint speed data from 2010, where he painstakingly digitally tracked the three species of lizards running on dark soil and white sand race-tracks.

PROJECT: Ecomorphology of White Sands lizards

Cara found out about the White Sands project during a guest lecture in Herpetology. Soon after, she became involved in the functional morphology project initiated in 2010. She is now working in the lab extracting muscle from lizard tails for stable isotope analysis on a project that will link changes in head morphology, bite strength, prey consumption, and ecology of the three species of lizard in White Sands. Cara is considering continuing on to graduate school after her undergraduate degree.

PROJECT: Ecomorphology of White Sands lizards

Jack was one of the first undergraduates to become involved in the Harmon Lab at the University of Idaho in 2008. He was a natural choice as a field assistant in White Sands in 2010 where he helped catch, measure, and measure the sprint speed of lizards. Jack's mad lizarding skills were put to good use capturing the illusive and fast-moving Little Striped Whiptail, Aspidoscelis inornata, and his clever construction abilities were crucial for race-track building. Jack has now finished his undergraduate degree, and has been spending time in Trinidad doing field work with the Reznick lab on the local guppies.

PROJECT: Ecological release in White Sands lizards

After a wonderful stint in the Rosenblum lab at UI, during which Knut explored the hormonal underpinning of behavioural differences of male Fence Lizards of White Sands, Knut migrated across state lines to Washington State University. Since January 2011 Knut has held full-time employment as a technician in the Rodgers’ molecular endocrinology lab in the Department of Animal Sciences at WSU. Current studies explore molecular mechanisms behind myostatin’s inhibitory effects in both skeletal and cardiac muscle. The research will develop novel therapies in the treatment of muscular related diseases such as the various muscular dystrophies. Knut's career goals include attending medical school, and he is currently interviewing at a number of programs.

If you are interested in becoming part of my field or lab team and working on the White Sands project, please contact me at: simone.desroches[at]

the material on this site is the intellectual property of Simone Des Roches 2010
this page was last updated 11/09/2013