Senior’s Honors project examines the ability of bats to see colors and ultraviolet light
(Sept. 8, 2004) GENEVA, N.Y.–Thanks to a $1,500 grant from the scientific research society Sigma Xi, Hobart and William Smith Colleges senior Alyssa Carlson will be able to study vision in bats this year.
The funding supports Carlson’s Honors project at the Colleges, which examines whether bats have the ability to see color or in the ultraviolet (UV) part of the spectrum. Bats, which are active at night, have little need for color vision and may have lost the photoreceptors, called cones, responsible for color vision. UV vision, however, has been demonstrated in many species and this sense may be present in bats.
Carlson’s project is part of a long-term research program conducted by her Honors adviser, HWS Professor Jim Ryan. Other individuals who will collaborate on the project include Mark Deutschlander, assistant professor of biology at HWS, and Ellis Loew, professor of physiology at Cornell University’s School of Veterinary Science.
Carlson first came to HWS Colleges as a junior in high school when she participated in the Environmental Studies Summer Youth Institute. Later she served as a staff intern helping to organize the 2003 ESSYI program. Last summer she studied non-native weevils on native plants in the subalpine zone under the direction of Tim Seastedt, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado. Carlson also studied biology in Australia on the Colleges semester abroad program in Queensland and currently serves as the president of the Biology Club on campus.
She is the second biology major to receive a Sigma Xi research grant for Honors research. Lisa DeLucia, a 2004 William Smith graduate, received a similar award last year to work with Deutschlander to study UV vision during development in amphibians.
Carlson is the daughter of Paula Carlson of Montgomery, N.J., and David Carlson of Atlanta, Ga. She plans to pursue Ph.D. research in ecology after graduating from William Smith College in the spring of 2005.