ISWE awards two competitive travel scholarships to assist student researchers with expenses for attending the ISWE conference. Here we congratulate Laura McCaw, recipient of a 2019 grant for travel to Kruger National Park for ISWE 7 South Africa.
Laura McCaw is a Master’s student in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Toronto, Scarborough, Canada. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Zoology from the University of Guelph in 2017. Her Master’s research is part of a 45-year study in Canada’s boreal forest investigating the cyclic fluctuations of snowshoe hare populations. Her research aims to elucidate how natural stressors, such as fluctuating predation risk and food availability, act from the individual level up to the population level over generations. Laura uses non-invasive glucocorticoid sampling techniques of fecal enzyme immunoassay, blood plasma radioimmunoassay and hair cortisol analysis as indices of stress. In addition, her research assesses changes in gene expression of steroid hormone receptors in newborn snowshoe hare through maternal epigenetic programming, such as DNA methylation. She hopes that her work can help provide a basis for understanding the molecular mechanisms behind population decline in both cyclic and non-cyclic populations experiencing chronic and acute stressors in the wild.