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Students from a University of Wisconsin Oshkosh biology class helped a Madison entomology professor track the movement of deer ticks Nov. 22-23 in a study of the occurrence of Lyme disease in Wisconsin.

Students Jed Aspley, Amalia Spankowski and Nicole Tritt were part of an ongoing study of freshly killed deer with Madison professor Susan Paskewitz. Over the weekend, students examined a section of the deer’s body for 15 minutes, recording data and collecting ticks for further lab analysis. While in the field, they also got to interact with members of the community.

“It was a neat experience to be able to get out and work on a research project in the field,” Tritt said. “Some of the hunters weren’t really educated on how common deer ticks are found, and it was exciting to see them take interest in their environment and asking questions about the problem.”

Trends were already emerging from the several camps where the students worked.

“There were a lot more ticks at the northern testing areas,” Aspley said. “In the south, most didn’t have more than three or four ticks. I think the most in the north was 25 on a single deer.”

Students will be taking more away from this outing than work and research experience. They also got valuable face-to-face time with DNR employees, which could help them in their job searches after graduation.

“Most internships are gained through relationships and networking employers,” Spankowski said. “I think that was one of the biggest things we gained from this study.”

UW Oshkosh professors Shelly Michalski and Bala Thiagarajan helped recruit the students for the project. Michalski published a paper on tickborne disease with Oshkosh students in 2006 and is happy to see a continuation in similar research.

“Our sampling was very similar to Susan’s,” Michalski said. “The participation of UWO students in her efforts will surely expand on the information that previous UWO students reported.”

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