Profile: Eva Lewandowski
Graduate Student in Conservation Biology
Eva Lewandowski is a PhD candidate in the Conservation Biology Graduate Program at the University of Minnesota. She is part of the Monarch Lab, where she studies citizen science and conservation education.
NoteStreams By Eva Lewandowski
What do citizen scientists gain when they collect data for a research study? What do they learn, and how does it change them? These are some of the questions that I try to answer in the course of my PhD research. As a graduate student in the University of Minnesota’s Monarch Lab, I have an up-close view of our lab’s citizen science project, the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project (MLMP), which has given me an excellent opportunity to find out how citizen science affects the citizen scientists themselves. Over the past few years I’ve spent a great deal of time meeting, writing about, and studying our MLMP volunteers. More often than not, what strikes me about these interactions is the volunteers’ familiarity with and connection to their monitoring sites.
With its striking orange and black coloring and transcontinental range, the monarch butterfly is probably the most recognizable insect in North America.
All pollinators are important to maintaining our food supply, but monarchs also have a key role in education; for decades schoolchildren across North America have been raising and releasing monarchs as part of their science lessons. Unfortunately, while monarchs were once one of the most commonly seen pollinators in gardens and fields, in the past decade there has been a precipitous drop in the monarch population.
The good news it that there are many things that the public can do right now to help monarchs!