Monica Bailey completes NASA research internship
By Sandy Bond
Monica Bailey, daughter of Tonya Hertel of Mobridge and Charles Bailey of Fort Yates, N.D. has recently completed a paid NASA internship at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif., this summer. She completed a student-led research project on White-nose syndrome in bats.
White-nose syndrome, named for a distinctive fungal growth, manifested as a visible white powdery substance around the nose, ears, and on the wings of hibernating bats, is a poorly understood disease associated with the deaths of up to 6.7 million North American bats. First identified in a cave in New York, it has rapidly spread ranging mostly throughout the Northeastern U.S. and as far south as Alabama and west to Missouri and into four Canadian provinces. It hasn’t reached the Dakotas as yet, but there is a concern as the disease moves steadily westward.
Students were able to study the correlation between the influxes of people to the bat population by studying the impact of the Williston Basin Oil activity.
The study concentrated on three of 21 different species of bats found in North Dakota. Infection causes bats to rouse too frequently from temporary hibernation and starve to death through excessive activity. The Forest Services estimates that the die-off could mean at least 2.3 million pounds of bugs will go uneaten and become a financial burden to farmers. Farmers will be forced to use more pesticides and food prices will rise, putting more of a burden on the consumer. There is a danger of an increase in the diseases that could be transmitted by mosquitoes with an increase in the mosquito population.
The undergraduate Student Researchers Program is NASA’s largest internship program offering undergraduates across the United States mentored internship experiences at NASA Centers and research support facilities. The NASA Ames Academy, according to the center, is an intensive educational program emphasizing group activities, teamwork, research and creativity. The curriculum balances direct contact with science and engineering research and development with an awareness of the managerial, political, financial, social and human issues faced by aerospace professionals.
Using the Geographic Information System, Monica worked alongside and networked with students and scientists from around the world. The student team presented their research project at United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck on July 20.
Monica is a 2011 graduate of Mobridge-Pollock High School. She was selected as homecoming queen by her peers in 2010 and chosen as Mobridge Snow Queen that same year. She was active as a football cheerleader and volleyball where she was two-time All Conference and All Tournament her senior year.
Monica is a sophomore at the University of Minnesota at their Minneapolis-St. Paul campus where she is majoring in biology and physiology with plans to becoming a physician.