Students who participate in Undergraduate Research Symposium do so because they have had the opportunity to study and learn from professors. And through that experience, they've developed either a research project or a research study. And then here's the opportunity to share it with their colleagues, with the community. And it is amazing to watch the level of skills that these students have during the Symposium.
This is a collaboration that was actually largely initiated by a student. So when I was teaching parasitology last year, I go over the lifecycle of myxosoan parasites, and there's a myxosoan parasite called tetracapsuleladiesbriosalmony, which we refer to as T Brio for short. And this was the parasite that caused massive die offs of white fish in the Yellowstone River in 2016. I had a student approached me after class and asked if the parasite was present in rivers around Dylan. And I was like, you know, that is a good question. I don't know. And I go, but we could find out.
My name is Coulter Feuerstein, and I'm an ecology major at the University of Montana Western. With our results, we hope to give those results to USGS. They did previous sampling in the Big Hole. So we're just trying to clarify some of their results and get are owned, to help them further research or maybe help other people further research with T Brio.
So the specific goals are to determine the temporal and spatial distribution of the parasite in our local rivers. And by that I meaning, when do we find the parasite in the rivers? And where do we find the parasite in the rivers? And to try and correlate that with environmental conditions. It's really important to research for the state of Montana, based on the fact that when this outbreak occurred, there was a large portion of the Yellowstone River that was closed for weeks to all recreation, which has a huge financial impact on local businesses.
The small grant that we did get from the foundation, I mean that was crucial to me even being able to do this research. I mean, having that extra money to fund the materials for me to partake in research is, that's critical.
Every one of our students in biology that has gone on to a higher level of education has participated in research here on this campus.
The actual experience in class is a big part of and then actually going and implementing that on actual research. You know, as for getting into grad school, I don't think a lot of undergraduates are given these kind of opportunities to be able to conduct research and help and research with faculty at the school. So I think that really stands out makes you really competitive when applying for those types of things.
What we do here is experiential learning. And that is participating in the authentic practice of the discipline. And in terms of the scientists, that's what we do is we do research. So the only way we can provide experiential learning to our students, is to engage them in research, and that obviously requires funding. And as our students here, a lot of them are interested in outdoor activities like hunting and fishing, and so if you can involve them in research that directly impact their recreational activities, their interest level just goes through the roof.
You know, the other thing that all this does is support a public fishery. I mean, it's pretty awesome to be able to do research that may end up benefiting the fishery in general.
Before I used to have to go out and try to recruit people to come into the lab or umbrellia. And once I switched over to fish parasites, I've got students beating on my door wanting to participate in the research project. The more interested you are in the subject, the more you're going to learn.