Burke's Tick Research Garners Best Student Presentation


burketickLincoln Memorial University (LMU) senior Conservation Biology major Emily Burke was awarded Best Student Presentation at the 2020 Tennessee Wildlife Society Conference in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, February 26-28.


Her presentation was titled “Seasonality of questing ticks in Claiborne County, Tennessee” and focused on when Ixodid (i.e., hard) ticks were active throughout the year in the local area. Burke used published morphology keys to identify ticks to species and conducted statistical analyses. Emily also photographed ticks to aid in their identification. Her research helps us understand when certain tick species, like the deer tick (Ixodes scapularis), may come in contact with humans and pets in the Cumberland Gap Area.


Burke has been researching tick phenology under the guidance of Assistant Professor of Biology and Conservation Biology, Barbara Shock, since August 2019.


“Emily’s hard work and genuine interest in vector-borne diseases has been evident since she started this project,” said Dr. Shock. “Her innate artistic abilities are apparent in her ability to photograph the ticks.”


Associate Professor of Biology, Aggy Vanderpool, and Assistant Professor of Biology and Conservation Biology and Director of Conservation Biology, Whitney Kistler, mentored 15 undergraduates as they presented research and interacted with colleagues from across Tennessee at the conference. Burke was one of seven LMU students who gave oral presentations.


 “I was pretty surprised because there were a lot of people who put hard work into their research and it showed,” Burke said. “But I was very happy to represent LMU!”


Hana Hess, a Conservation Biology: Wildlife and Fisheries Management major from Saltville, Virginia, presented on the identification of the presence of eastern hellbenders (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis) in the Powell River, Tennessee utilizing environmental DNA detection methods. (mentor: Dr. Whitney Kistler).


Ben Wiley, a Conservation Biology: Research major from Durango, Colorado, present an investigative analysis of native and invasive crayfish species composition in the Powell River in Claiborne County, Tennessee. (mentor: Dr. Whitney Kistler).


Kendall Trent, a Conservation Biology: Wildlife and Fisheries Management major from Thorn Hill, Tennessee, presented on using a low head oxygenator to reduce nitrogen saturation levels in raceways at Buffalo Springs Trout Hatchery in Rutledge, Tennessee. (mentor: Dr. Aggy Vanderpool).


Hunter Wyatt, a Conservation Biology: Wildlife and Fisheries Management major from Rogersville, Tennessee and President of the LMU Student Chapter of the Wildlife Society, presented on estimating species richness using echolocation monitoring. (mentor: Dr. LaRoy Brandt).


Tyler Ogan, a Conservation Biology: Wildlife and Fisheries Management major from New Tazewell, Tennessee, presented a herpetological diversity survey of the Well Being Retreat Center in Tazewell, Tennessee. (mentor: Dr. Aggy Vanderpool).


Justin Anderson-Woodard, a Conservation Biology: Wildlife and Fisheries Management major from Pennington Gap, Virginia, presented on monitoring the movement and burrowing behavior of endangered Epioblasma brevidens, the Cumberlandian combshell mussel, in relation to rearing conditions and substrate type. (mentor: Dr. Aggy Vanderpool).


For more than 75 years, The Wildlife Society has been influencing the future of wildlife and wild places for the benefit of generations to come. Founded in 1937, the organization’s mission is “To inspire, empower, and enable wildlife professionals to sustain wildlife populations and habitats through science-based management and conservation.” The Wildlife Society enhances members’ networking and learning opportunities and professional and career development, and provides numerous ways for them to get more involved in creating a better future for wildlife and their habitats.


The Wildlife Society members include scientists, managers, educators, technicians, planners, consultants and others who manage, conserve and study wildlife populations and habitats; students who are pursuing degrees and experiences that will enable them to become the next generation of wildlife professionals; and supporters who help spread the word and take action on important wildlife and habitat issues.


Lincoln Memorial University is a values-based learning community dedicated to providing educational experiences in the liberal arts and professional studies.  The main campus is located in Harrogate, Tennessee. For more information about the undergraduate and graduate programs available at LMU, contact the Office of Admissions at 423-869-6280 or e-mail at [email protected].

Back to previous page