I was featured on the home page of my undergraduate university, Northern Arizona University. Yayy! Here's the article it links to: [link] There is also a news clip there that was done a while back.
Here's the article for those of you too lazy to visit the webpage:
From NAU to the Audubon Center
Northern Arizona University alumna Lauren Marks, winning the Hooper
Undergraduate Research Award (HURA) was both a reward for her previous
hard work as an undergraduate and an opportunity to gain valuable
experience in her field prior to graduation.
The award provided
Marks, who graduated in 2011 with a bachelor's degree in biology, with
an opportunity to conduct important research as an undergraduate, which
eventually set her up for a job at the Riparian Institute (a non-profit
education and recreation resource for riparian/river areas) in Gilbert,
Arizona, a position she held until February.
Now Marks turns to
the next chapter of her professional career after taking an opportunity
in Washington following successful stops in Arizona, Louisiana, and New
Researching an "evolutionary arms race"
chose to pursue her bachelor's degree in biology because she found it
fascinating due to its competitive nature and how it affects the world
"I really love the life sciences evolutionary arms
race, where parasite and host are competing to out-evolve one another,"
she said. "I have always been interested in life sciences and the
interdependence of organisms. I have a lot of other interests, but
biology just made sense and I knew I'd end up working with animals at a
fairly young age."
Marks used the HURA funds to study a local
"evolutionary arms race" that particularly interested her. She examined
how amphipods—crustaceans found mostly in marine environments— in
Montezuma's Well, a natural limestone sinkhole near Rimrock, Arizona,
drive evolution and shape behavior.
Marks first became interested
in studying amphipods while helping a graduate student conduct their
research on leeches at Montezuma's Well. She noticed the amphipods were a
bright orange color, and learned that they changed color in order to
make it easier for ducks to eat them. Marks quickly became fascinated by
this host manipulation and began studying its effects in other
indigenous creatures. After spending a year and a half absorbed in these
in-depth studies, it made sense to apply for the Hooper Award.
a grant proposal is not something typically done by undergraduates,"
Marks says of the HURA. "The demonstrated ability to get your own
funding is highly desirable by potential research advisers or employment
agencies, but it is also a valuable skill for anyone to have under
She says winning the award and doing further
research helped her grow as a student and prepared her for her future
work immensely. Not only did Marks' research pay off, but it also helped
her practice her public speaking skills while she presented at
conferences, including the NAU Undergraduate Research Symposium and the
Research early and often
research on amphipods was one of her earliest passions, Marks also
helped many of her worked on a small independent study in North Carolina
in 2010 about the grazing effects of the periwinkle snail on salt marsh
cord grass. The research Marks underwent as an undergraduate gave her
an edge in the professional world, and she urges current undergraduates
to explore research early in their education—even as freshmen or
"It's never too early to get involved with research;
it's a really good opportunity," Marks said. "I gained so much
experience with invertebrates, and most of the positions I'm applying
for involve field work."
Marks said students who engage in
research activity early in their educational careers have more control
over their research—and they gain the ability to work on projects that
"If you get involved earlier, you can develop your own project," Marks said. "Don't wait until graduate school."
recently finished working as an avian field technician in the Bosque
del Apache National Wildlife Refuge surveying songbirds in order to
assess riparian habitat health. Her next adventure begins in Washington
as Marks has recently been offered a position as a logistical
coordinator/educator at Salish Sea Expeditions.
constant relocation, Marks says taking a variety of occupations at her
young age will help her round out her resume and teach her a variety of
lessons applicable to her future goals of attending graduate school and
working in education.
"I love moving from job to job because I am
learning an abundance of skills to apply in different habitats and
environments," Marks said. "It's really giving me the 'big picture'
while giving me a chance to travel and find out what I would like to