Utah State University-Brigham City undergraduate student Mikayla Austin was invited to present her research on bird-window collisions at the National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT) conference. Austin received an Undergraduate Research and Creative Opportunities (URCO) grant and worked with students Adam Berry and Spencer Smith under the direction of Jessica Habashi to better understand the impact of USU-Brigham City’s building on local bird deaths.
“Surprisingly, one of the top causes of bird deaths is from flying into windows. The research done on this subject is varied with many conclusions,” said Austin. “My aim is to help contribute to that knowledge base, focusing on USU-Brigham City’s building.”
With a close location to the Bear River Bird Refuge, bird deaths are taken fairly seriously in Brigham City and solutions are constantly being implemented. Austin and her research team walked around the building once a day, five days a week, and record whether or not a dead bird is found. Currently in the data collection process, Austin hopes to have enough data by next fall to start doing statistical analyses to see where USU-Brigham City’s building stands in the bird-window collision issue.
The NABT conference works to empower educators and provide the best possible biology and life science education to all students. Austin was able to present on her current research findings, and network with other educators from around the nation. “It was gratifying being able to talk to experts from a variety of fields, like avian biologists, who were interested in starting similar projects at their schools.”
Thanks to the URCO grant, Austin has all of the materials she needs and is able to dedicate a large portion of time to complete her research. This is the second time a USU-Brigham City student has attended a national conference for biology research. Austin is majoring in industrial hygiene and plans on entering the workforce as soon as she graduates.
USU is the second oldest undergraduate research institutions in the nation. Students like Austin are encouraged to contact USU’s College of Research and Graduate Studies and work with their professors to find out how to gain hands-on experience before they graduate.