Marika Lou

Name: Marika Lou ‘ 14
Hometown: Salem, Oregon
Major: Biology
OCS Program: SFS Costa Rica Sustainable Development Studies

That's the beauty of the scientific method and field data collection procedures in general- they put everyone on the same page. Here's a picture of me holding a hummingbird we've just caught in a mist net and are about to measure.

The title of my research project was "Hummingbird weight compared to wing morphology across dominance hierarchies in Costa Rica". As the title suggests, my research focused on measuring various morphological variables of hummingbirds' wings and calculating aerodynamic ratios from those measurements. I wanted to explore the extent to which the weight of the bird itself drove the morphological characteristics of its wings, and also to compare morphological and aerodynamic trends with the established dominance hierarchies of hummingbird species that exist at two different study sites in Costa Rica.

Apart from the tropical cloud forest, coatis coming after my lunch, and quetzals flitting through the trees, conducting this research abroad felt extremely similar to conducting research here. That's the beauty of the scientific method and field data collection procedures in general- they put everyone on the same page. My peers were American students as well, and our advising professor spoke perfect English, which furthered the feeling of familiarity surrounding this research process. This familiarity was comforting, and nicely augmented by the novelty of being in the tropics and having so many colorful hummingbird species around to study.