The University of Arizona

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

SNRE Undergraduate Sandy Slovikosky Receives Honor for Research with Glow-in-the-Dark Rats

Sandy Slovikosky holds a packrat on her open palm.
Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Congratulations to Sandy Slovikosky, recipient of the 2020 American Society of Mammalogists (ASM) Undergraduate Honoraria award! 
 
Sandy, an undergraduate in SNRE specializing in wildlife conservation and management, received her award for a research project she designed and spearheaded as an Undergraduate Biology Research Program (UBRP) participant. Sandy has been an active participant in the Koprowski Conservation Research Laboratory since she arrived at the University of Arizona, however, her connection to SNRE research started much earlier.
 
Sandy’s research career started in high school under the guidance of Dr. Melanie Culver (SNRE) studying the effects of urban development on wildlife in her neighborhood with wildlife cameras. She participated in SARSEF and the Arizona Science and Engineering Fair to communicate her results. Sandy’s research interests continue to center on human-wildlife conflict, habitat fragmentation, and community-based conservation.
 
Her current research focuses on disturbance effects on animal behavior and distribution. Sandy studies how recent wildfires on Mt. Graham affect the movement of Mexican woodrats (more commonly known as ‘packrats’). To assess this, she applies a temporary fluorescent powder that glows in the dark to packrats in areas of both low and high severity burn. She can then track the movement of packrats back to their nests and compare between the two groups.

"The most rewarding aspect was definitely learning what I am capable of. The study required a lot of fieldwork, which can be challenging, but I was really proud of what I was able to accomplish…I grew tremendously as a result.”

Sandy is now analyzing the data and will be presenting her results at ASM’s next conference in Anchorage, Alaska. She plans to continue research in wildlife conservation and is looking into starting her Master’s degree this fall, for which she has already received her first offer!
 
Going forward, Sandy envisions herself engaging in wildlife research internationally to reduce human-wildlife conflict and maintain biodiversity in the face of anthropogenic growth and expansion. Born in Germany, Sandy is no stranger to international travel and has spent much of her life visiting different countries and learning new languages. She hopes to unite her passion for community-based conservation with her love for experiencing new cultures by working with local peoples to learn about their perspectives and reduce human-wildlife conflict with threatened species.

“I want to extend my sincerest gratitude to the Koprowski Conservation Research Laboratory and entire SNRE community, including faculty, staff, graduate students, and fellow undergrads. My undergrad could not have been a better experience and I largely attribute this to the people who walked this journey with me.”

Follow Sandy’s journey and stay up to date with her research progress at her professional website: https://sanimal.net/