Volume 36, Issue 3, 2017

Bat Girl Competes on the International Stage

This September, Bat Squad! member Alexis “Batgirl” Valentine traveled to Moscow to present her research on White-nose Syndrome to a panel of international judges. She was selected to represent the United States in the 14th Annual International Junior Forest Contest, a competition open to young scientists ages 14–22. Hosted by the Russian Federal Forestry Agency (RFFA), the contest aims to “promote and reward young scientists for their interests and efforts in the environmental field, as well as to encourage international dialogue about forestry issues.”

Credit: Amy Ejma.
Alexis and her mom pose for a picture with member of the U.S. and Russian

At 15, Alexis was the youngest competitor, and the only one whose research focused on bats. Her research, entitled “Pseudogymnoascus destructans? A comparison study of White-nose Syndrome in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s bat species,” focuses on the effects of White-nose Syndrome on changes in bat populations. Her research utilized both netting and acoustic monitoring to track two species, eastern red bats (Lasiurus borealis) and northern long-eared bats (Myotis septentrionalis), at two field sites in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Alexis won 2nd place out of 40 awards, making her both the youngest competitor to win an award and the highest-ranking American contestant in the competition’s history.

We’re so proud to see Batgirl continuing her research and conservation work. Congratulations, Alexis!

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