This is the 3rd in the series about millenials who are following their passion for nature and the Earth. Nicole Krauss is a graduate of Wayzata High School in Minnesota. Here is Nicole’s story:
“I am going into the fourth year of my PhD studying maternal effects in black-throated blue warblers, small birds that live in mixed hardwood forests in the Eastern US.
I love being submersed in nature. I have the opportunity to spend hours with individual birds, to see their personalities, their failures and triumphs, and undeniable persistence. Learning from the birds, and the forest is part of what keeps me moving in this direction. I also really like physiology, and my research lives at the intersection of ecology and physiology. The marriage of the two is most interesting to me on an intellectual level. Not surprisingly, females are understudied in almost all fields including ornithology and physiology. Studying female birds is my way of contributing to feminism.
My workday begins at 5am, and I stay in the woods until 2pm. My days often involve being too hot or too cold, getting wet, and lots of bug bites! Tripping and falling down are part of an average day too; as looking at a bird instead of your feet can be hazardous. It is not uncommon to have days where I do not catch a bird or find a nest. I would say the vast majority of my time is spent just walking or standing still. I love “nest searching” because you have to be very in tune with each bird, and you can see how different individuals are from one another. Finding a nest is always very special. Once we locate a nest, we continue to check in on it every other day.
Even though I love this work, it does come with a cost. Leading 10 field technicians, who are in every other way my peers, is draining. I am collecting data for three professors and myself; and communicating with all of them is challenging. And that is just during the field season. During the year I teach, take classes, and do a ton of lab work. Each of these gives and takes in different ways, but spending time in the woods with the Black Throated Blue Warblers is the best part.”