Dr. Darah Wright, ’00June 2, 2016
Santino Aniek ’14June 21, 2016
Alumni Spotlight: Kristi Confortin
Wildlife Management, Class of ‘14
M.S. Candidate at Ball State University
Where She is Now
I am currently a graduate student at Ball State University studying the roosting ecology of the Eastern Small-Footed Bat in southern Illinois. There is very little known about this species of bat so it’s a really neat experience. It’s exciting to see the data and put together the research knowing that this will be helpful in making management decisions in the future.
“Classes I took at SUNY Cobleskill, such as wildlife management and wildlife techniques, taught me radio telemetry—which is now the main method I use when I am conducting my research."
I was inspired to start working with bats after my professors in the Fisheries, Wildlife, and Environmental Science department encouraged me to get summer jobs in the wildlife field. Professor Kevin Burner was my mentor throughout my four years at Cobleskill. He really encouraged me to do my best and inspired me to want to make an impact in my field. I spent one summer working with bats and was lucky to have had another wonderful mentor (Katherine Caldwell) who taught and showed me so much. Since then my passion, to study them has grown. My current graduate position, researching the Eastern small-footed bat, is a perfect fit for me. I know it will help me achieve my dream of becoming a bat biologist.
Sustaining and Succeeding
One of the best things I learned at Cobleskill was the ability to sustain and push myself through difficult circumstances. There were many times throughout my undergraduate degree that felt overwhelming, but with hard work I was able to do my best. In the spring of 2015, I was awarded the Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence, a reminder that my hard work paid off in the long run. Now, in the field, I can look back and know I can get through the more challenging times. A good example of this is when I cannot locate a transmitter bat. I take a step back, evaluate the situation, and move to a different spot.
Classes I took at SUNY Cobleskill, such as wildlife management and wildlife techniques, taught me radio telemetry—which is now the main method I use when I am conducting my research. This technique works by attaching a tiny radio transmitter to the bat’s back. The next day I am able to track the bat with a receiver and antenna to find where the bat is roosting for that day.
Students, Take Note
Take advantage of all opportunities in class and out of the classroom. This really allows you to start building your resume right away. I was very shy at first but after joining clubs such as the Wildlife Society, I was able to make friends, go to club activities, and travel to professional meetings. Remember to always stay involved and give back to your community in any way you can.