Swamp Scholar

 

Rebecca Scheffler, right, catalogs her findings from one pitfall trap. Above, she measures an Eastern Narrowmouth Toad.

Rebecca Scheffler, right, catalogs her findings from one pitfall trap. Above, she measures an Eastern Narrowmouth Toad.

Rebecca Scheffler became the first-ever USC Salkehatchie Magellan Scholar when her project was selected by the program this spring for undergraduate research funding. Rebecca worked with her faculty mentor, Dr. Eran Kilpatrick, over the summer to conduct an inventory of reptile and amphibian life at a plantation in Allendale. As part of the project, she installed pitfall traps, buckets placed in a ground hole, in varied habitats throughout the site. She visited the sites regularly, recording the creatures that stumbled into the traps, ranging from spiders and beetles to toads and salamanders. Each one was examined to determine the correct species name, then they were measured and released away from the sampling site. “It has been a lot of hard work, but I have enjoyed it,” said Scheffler. The Magellan Scholars program was developed by USC to enrich the undergraduate academic experience through research. In addition to being the first Salkehatchie Magellan Scholar, Scheffler was the only student from a two-year USC campus who received funding for a summer/fall 2009  Magellan project. Despite transferring to USC Aiken for the fall 2009 semester, Scheffler plans to keep working with Kilpatrick and conducting research. She is majoring in biological sciences, concentrating on a wildlife specialization.