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Riesenberg takes home price-winning poster


Senior finds research photos provoking

Alannah Goode

Antelope Staff

It is rare for an undergrad student’s poster to win first place, especially when the research project for which the visual aid was created remains unfinished.

Senior Andrew Riesenberg accomplished the unexpected and won first place for his poster at the 2017 Meeting of the Central Plains Society of Mammalogists held at the Swiss Valley Nature Preserve near Dubuque, Iowa, on Oct. 13-14.

 Riesenberg emerged with the first-place win for his poster: “Wildlife Use of Stock Tanks in the Nebraska Sandhills.”

This yearly meeting was the first one Riesenberg had attended. There were roughly 20 other poster presentations, and some belonged to graduate students.

“It was surprising because we’ve only started analyzing the pictures and are still waiting for more data,” Riesenberg said. “But people love pictures, especially when they tell a story, and my poster did just that.”

The poster session provided a time for each student to present his or her hard work and unique research and for all in attendance to learn about diverse areas of mammology.

Throughout his experience, the senior says he enjoyed finding things he had not expected to discover. He learned stock tanks are used to provide drinking water for cattle or horses, but other animals could be seen taking advantage of them.

He found that there was more going on than just animals drinking from the stock tanks, and he finds the stories to be the most exciting part. “Who knew I would see great blue herons hunting frogs at a ranch in the Sandhills?” Riesenberg asked.

The undeniably impressive feat for Riesenberg began with the assistance of UNK biology professor Keith Geluso and UNK Communication associate professor Mary Harner and succeeded in fulfilling as part of activities related to a grant and Riesenberg’s undergraduate research project.

The grant was from the University of Nebraska Food for Health Collaboration Initiative for a project focused on seeing agricultural landscapes as learning environments.

 Riesenberg worked with Geluso spring semester of his junior year developing a proposal for his senior biology research project. Geluso said he had an interest in doing a study involving wildlife and their use of stock tanks, and Riesenberg took an interest in the topic. Once the proposal was finished, he and Riesenberg started their investigation this autumn.

More still needs to be done for Riesenberg’s project that is also being conducted as a part of Undergraduate Research Fellowship. However, Geluso thought it would be helpful for Riesenberg to present a poster of his preliminary data at the 2017 Meeting of the Central Plains Society of Mammalogists, as the senior would be presenting a poster in the spring for UNK Student Research Symposium.

It was not just the poster that won at the 2017 Central Plains Society of Mammalogists annual meeting. Riesenberg says he took home an understanding that he is contributing knowledge to other researchers and the public.

The work is just beginning. Riesenberg, Geluso, and colleagues are currently continuing their work on the project and are starting to do time-lapse videos with the photos, of which tens of thousands have been collected this autumn. 

Riesenberg will be helping Geluso and Harner do a live video session out in the field. He says, “They will be using my project and other things to help middle and high school students learn about science.”


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