In her 20-plus years as a zoologist, she’s been a Komodo dragon studbook keeper, a chimpanzee database curator, an amphibian zookeeper and, since 2018, a primate lab research specialist at the University of Wisconsin.
But the career-launching title that Nell Bekiares cherishes as much as any was bestowed upon her by her advisor and most impactful UI faculty member ... Mouseketeer.
That’s what Dr. Lowell Getz affectionately called the 1,063 unpaid undergrad volunteers who lent a hand in the Ecology, Ethology and Evolution professor’s quarter-century-long research project.
“At the time I was in school, he was 15 or 20 years into an incredible 25-year population study of prairie mice and voles,” Bekiares says. “I, along with many students over the years, known as his ‘mouseketeers,’ spent a semester live-trapping and identifying rodents at one of his sites.
“What I remember most about him is going to his cluttered office to discuss academic plans, and he would be so excited about his vole data that he would bring out reams of dot-matrix paper to show me annual changes in vole populations.
“He was so passionate about his research, it definitely had an impact on my desire to go into animal research myself.”