Featuring our Graduating Seniors: Dylan Lindauer



This is the second in a series featuring the recent OU graduates who are members of the Siler Lab.  In their own words, they will highlight the experiences they had with us as students, volunteers and/or employees.  The first entry, by Rachel Flanagan, is available here and the third in the series, by Matt De Ruyter is available here.

In January 2015, I began volunteering in the Department of Herpetology, however my interest in the area began the semester before. At that time, I became inspired by the enthusiasm of Cameron Siler, who at that time I knew as my evolution professor and not as the curator of the Herpetology Department. During that class, he would try to connect the course material with an example from herpetology and you could tell he truly enjoyed what he did and strove to pass this love on to others. Upon completion of the class, I asked Cameron if there was a way to continue working with him outside of the classroom. He mentioned the opportunity to volunteer at Sam Noble and I seized the opportunity.

From the first day I began volunteering at the Herp lab, I was welcomed and made to feel at home by everyone working there. One person that stood out was Jessa, who is a wonderful mentor and always so friendly, to all the other students, who were there to help answer questions and let me participate in some really cool experiments. Over the past year, I have been honored to get to know some extremely kind and intelligent people who are on track to do great things in their field. I am truly thankful for the chance at getting to know Cameron, Jessa, and all the other herpers.

Throughout my time here, I have gained valuable skills and experiences that will help me accomplish my goals. For example, I participated in a study on a particular lizard found in the Philippines. Due to the geographic diversity of the islands, Cameron hypothesized that there were actually multiple species of this lizard. In order to test this hypothesis, I measured scales, toe lengths, and other body features of around 200 specimens. Learning everything from how to use a caliper to counting the scales on a lizard has given me invaluable skills that will help me in my future endeavors. As the semester progressed, I had the chance to participate in field travels to SE Oklahoma to collect herps and learn about the common diseases that afflict them. When Jessa asked me to participate in a camping trip, I was excited but a little unprepared. I had never been camping before, let alone deep in the woods or marshes to collect amphibians and reptiles. It was a little out of my comfort zone, but I was excited for the adventure. Thanks to the herp team, I found out I loved camping, wading in the waters, searching high and low for herps, and experiencing my first capture of a frog, salamander, or snake.

More recently, I have started work on cataloguing specimens, which, while not as exciting as catching frogs, is important work for future research and studies. Because of this, I spent much of my time double and triple checking all the data collected from the field season. I also like to consider myself the pro-etcher of the department. When the field season started, I became the go to person to etch thousands of tiny vials. This ability will pay off in the long run when I start medical school and have to use very fine motor skills.

Through all of the jobs I have worked on, from etching to learning how to extract liver from a specimen, the experiences and skills I gained will help me in the long run for my future goals as a medical doctor. Learning to work on small animals with little room for error has provided the opportunity to learn to work in tight spaces, which would be beneficial for surgery labs. But most importantly, this experience has given me the opportunity to gain knowledge in herpetology, which I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do in school, meet new people, and above all, not be afraid to try new things.

Thank you to everyone in the Herpetology Department for making this a great year. I have enjoyed getting to work with you and experience what it’s like to be a herper!

Dylan has also recently become a Certified Nurse’s Assistant, to gain valuable medical experience, while she applies for med school in Oklahoma and other locations in the US.  We wish her luck!