My project focuses on the reproductive cycle of a genus of shrimp, Synalpheus, which includes species with a social organization unique to marine organisms. Eusociality is a form of social structure characterized by large colonies with one or few reproducing females and cooperative brood care. I am studying the method of reproduction in both social and non-social species to help determine ecological and evolutionary factors which lead to eusocial behavior.
The Honors Fellowship will allow me to conduct field research which includes specimen collections in Belize and other Caribbean locations. In addition, it will allow me to continue my work in the VIMS Marine Biodiversity Lab which includes updating and cataloging a collection of 25 years worth of specimen samples, which will become a valuable tool in the study of this genus and of the evolution of social behavior in general.
Hometown: Arlington, VA
Future Plans: I plan to further my career by continuing to conduct research in this field and continuing on to a Masters and PhD in Ecology/Biology.
Campus Activities: PSP Honor Society
Hobbies: I am a certified diver and enjoy spending as much time in the water as I can. In addition, I am an Art minor so I spend my free time in the Ceramics studio on campus or practicing my skills as a nature photographer in the surrounding woods.
Fun Fact: I love animals of all shapes and sizes. I lived in Kenya when I was younger where I swam with dolphins, made friends with baby elephants, and had the privilege of having tea with a Cheetah named Shala.
Follow Sarah’s research on the W&M Honors Fellowships blog!