Award winner started young

October 05, 2006, volume 37, no. 3
By Diane Luckow

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When Eloise Rowland was four years old, her mother found her in bed cuddling garden snails. Under the bed were boxes of caterpillars. "I was always submersed in dirt and ponds," she laughs.

Two decades later, nothing has changed. Rowland has spent her undergraduate years at SFU immersed in field research—studying codling moth larvae and peach twig borer moths in the chemical ecology lab; observing western sandpipers on the mud flats at Boundary Bay; and tracking starlings on a dairy farm in Langley.

Her keen interest in research earned her the biological sciences undergraduate research award this summer. It recognizes the biology undergraduate with the most
research potential.

Rowland, who receives her bachelor of science with first class honours in biology at the Oct. 5 convocation ceremony, is already planning a research career. She commenced her master of science program
earlier this year, visiting Connecticut in April and Germany in July to conduct bioacoustic recordings of
the communicative sounds of the gypsy and nun moths.

"For my master's project I'm trying to figure out whether these moths use acoustic communications in the first place and, if they do, to try to improve trap captures by adding sound to them." The moth larvae, she says, are major pests of coniferous and deciduous trees, capable of defoliating entire forests.

She also plans to visit Japan to see whether there are different dialects between European and Japanese

Rowland has already had her undergraduate research published in two prestigious academic journals and has had two more publications accepted.

Her career goal, however, is not to study insects, but primates. Her work in bioacoustics is merely preparation for her planned PhD thesis on the proboscis monkey and its communication.

"I'm learning all of the sound equipment, the techniques and types of set up and design I'll need," she explains.

Since the proboscis monkey lives in the foliage overhanging mangrove and peat swamps in Borneo, Rowland should feel right at home as she pursues her research career.

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