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Written by: Nancy Moncrief
Wednesday March 5, 2014

Last week, I gave a presentation about my research to a junior class of high school students taught by Dr. Nina Huff at Piedmont Governor’s School for Mathematics, Science, and Technology in Martinsville.  Nina teaches research methodology and design.  Nina’s junior classes work on research projects as a group.  Next year, as seniors, the students will work on projects individually.

Dr. Nancy Moncrief presenting a lecture about her research to students at the Piedmont Governors School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology in Martinsville.

I talked to the class about some of my research on eastern fox squirrels and eastern gray squirrels.  These amazing animals and the forests they live in are intricately interdependent, and each has shaped the evolution of the other.

Most eastern gray squirrels have tails that are fringed in white, and many eastern fox squirrels have tails that are fringed in orange.

My dissertation research and subsequent work have demonstrated interesting patterns of geographic variation in both species of squirrels.  For my dissertation, I studied size variation in squirrels from the lower Mississippi River Valley.  Now, I plan to include animals from other parts of eastern North America.

I went to Nina’s class last week in hopes that one or two students would want to study these squirrels with me next year.  Several students did express an interest and I’ll meet with them next month to discuss specific projects they can complete with my guidance.

Tags: Dr. Nancy Moncrief, Governors School, Mammals, Research and Collections, Sciurus carolinensis, Sciurus niger, Squirrel