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Undergrads seek to change the world through research

Adriana Garcia  '11 with a gray tree frog

Adriana Garcia '11, pictured with a gray tree frog, is conducting research on a fungus that is devastating the coqu, a tiny brown frog species native to her home territory of Puerto Rico.

When Adriana Garcia '11 transferred to Cornell last year from the University of Puerto Rico, she was thrilled to find that one of her professors was working on a fungus that has been devastating one of Puerto Rico's iconic treasures, a tiny brown frog with an outsized singing voice known as the coquí. Loved across the island for its all-night lyrical chirping, the songs have been growing a little quieter in recent years.

The fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), which has been linked to massive declines and even extinctions in some amphibians around the globe, also has been taking a serious toll on the coquí population.

Garcia, who had learned about the fungus in a biology class in Puerto Rico, wanted to be involved in research that would help reverse the coquí calamity; so when she transferred to Cornell, she sought out ecologist and evolutionary biologist Kelly Zamudio, who was working on Bd in her Corson Hall lab.

Today, Garcia spends much of her time in Zamudio's lab researching the pathways of the fungus's amphibian destruction. In doing this, she has joined hundreds of undergraduates across the campus whose college academic experience is as much about doing original research as it is about lectures and coursework. "Research is an essential part of my life. I find it crucial to study current changes affecting biodiversity," she said.


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David Robertshaw, professor of biomedical sciences emeritus, established a program in 2003 that brings second-year Weill Cornell Medical College-Qatar premed students to Ithaca every summer for research in labs across campus.Read more

How Jim Moore '62 supports undergrad research
Jim Moore '62 has supported undergraduate research at Cornell for more than 20 years through an undergraduate research fund that aids several engineering students each year.Read more Students working on noise-cancelling apparatus. Read more

Noise-reduction invention resonates loudly
Two electrical and computer engineering seniors developed an independent research project with enough promise that Cornell has filed a provisional patent application based on their work.Read more Associate professor Kelly Zamudio with a lizard. Read more

Blurring the lines between work and play
Kelly Zamudio explains how an academic lab is a perfect environment for undergraduates, because professors, graduate students and postdocs are excellent and varied examples of how people approach their work. Read more

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