by undergrad Cecilia Zemanek
Being placed in charge of my first independent research project my 3rd semester, I was very excited to get started. Maybe a little bit too excited, as I happily signed up to present a poster for Tracy’s Undergraduate Poster Exhibition that was less than two weeks away. Needless to say, I miraculously managed to pull something off in that time frame and was relieved to have something ready for the judges. While at the event, Tracy introduced me to freshman Greg Reiley, who apparently had a huge passion for jumping beans. Tracy told me how he was looking to get involved with some research, and asked if I would like some help with mine. After seeing how much work it took just to collect one round of initial data, I realized any help would be extremely beneficial.
My project involves looking at why some jumping beans posses more of a propensity to jump than others. It was thought that maybe it had something to do with physical constraints, so Tracy and I devised an experiment that would test the number of jumps per bean versus larva and pod size, larva body condition, and larval activity outside of the pod.
From the masses and dimensions of both, the size of the pod and the size of the grub were both compared to the number of jumps. Body condition of the grub was also taken into account, using the mass of the grub compared to its length and area.
It was very cool extracting the larva from its pod. Grub activity was observed with video analysis. I looked at the number of head thrashes, the number of grub contractions and distensions, and the number of grid lines crossed.
One interesting thing I saw was that as the size of the Mexican jumping bean increased, the slower the temperature of the bean rose.
Greg and I have been working hard collecting all the data we need. This week, we will be sitting down with Tracy to discuss the results. I am so appreciative to have the opportunity to work in such an amazing lab with such amazing people!