My project seeks to understand the relationship between plant density and how milkweed responds to damage by insects that eat it. Additionally, I seek to understand if previous methods that quantified plant defenses used methods that appropriately mimic natural damage caused by insects, this is important as both a validation experiment for methods used in several other papers and as another piece to solving the puzzle between Monarch butterflies and their preferred plants.
The Honors Fellowship is important for myself and my research advisor because a large part of my project requires the use of a chemical laboratory and necessary equipment that we are able to obtain with this funding, it also allows me to have campus housing so that I may work on this research at school during the summer without needing to look for off-campus housing.
Hometown: Midlothian, VA
Majors: Biology and Environmental Science
Future Plans: After my time at William and Mary I plan to seek out a Masters degree in Biology and I hope to work with habitat restoration and research.
Hobbies: I have worked an off-campus job 10 to 15 hours a week since last April, I also love spending my spare time hiking, running, and playing tennis whenever I can!
Fun Fact: Although I am a double major in the sciences, I love art history and reading, Dostoevsky is my favorite author and the first time I saw the Pietà was the only time I have ever been caught speechless during an art history class.
Follow Melissa’s research on the W&M Honors Fellowships blog!