With a Little Help from Dad and Her University of Dayton Biology Professor
Future scientists everywhere can further their research goals using Josie Baudendistel as their model. For the past two years, this Dayton Regional STEM School student has been studying forensic scavenging patterns for her science fair projects in conjunction with Dr. Eric Benbow, Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Dayton.
Because she is under the age limit for posting a project on FundaGeek, her Dad set up an account and helped her build her project called Possum Vision.
Over the last two years, Josie has observed interesting scavenging patterns within different seasons and different scavengers. She notes that nocturnal Opossum scavenge mainly at night. As she says, “This begs the question of whether or not they detect visual cues using a larger portion of the light spectrum than humans. For instance, do Opossum use ultraviolet or infrared light wavelengths as scavenging signals?”
For this year’s science fair project, her hypothesis is that they may use both UV and IR signals. She plans to set three pig carcasses along the edge of a field where previous activity has been observed. Each carcass will have a tripod with a webcam placed over it that will send images to a website. Each carcass will also have a trail camera placed near it to capture scavenging activity. In addition, she will go to each carcass site and take pictures through a filter that senses UV light as well as IR light to observe any visual changes in the carcass twice a day during the research period. She will then compare the observed visual signals with opossum scavenging activities. If visual signals can be identified, there is a possibility they can be used during forensic investigations.
The University of Dayton will supply webcams, trail cams and 3 pig carcasses. Her family will supply the tripods. Her successful crowdfunding project will help her to purchase a new camera to convert to UV and IR sensitive light as well as software to analyze the pictures. A breakdown of her costs is listed on her project’s page at: http://www.fundageek.com/project/detail/786/Possum-Vision--UVIR-Visual-Scavenging-Signals
As Josie says, “Sponsor me and be included in my work through a special website. Spread the word. Tell your friends. Donate equipment. Anything will be very much appreciated!”
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