My name is Gina Johnson and I will begin my master’s degree in the Blumstein lab Fall 2019! This is my second year as a marmoteer at RMBL and I am so excited to be here again. My hobbies include hiking and backpacking, SCUBA, exploring and generally just being with animals. I love marmots because they are arguably the cutest critters in existence, and I love to watch them interact and see each of their individual personalities come out! My favorite time of year is pup season when I get to hold babies all day; it is such a privilege to get to work with these tough little animals.
I am fascinated with animal behavior, evolutionary biology, and am working on developing ideas around the animal microbiome. You might have heard the term microbiome as a buzz-word in health and medicine, but in fact, the bacteria that live in and on humans and animals may play a large role in behavior, health, and overall species evolution! This area of research is just beginning to be explored in humans, however, I am very interested in how this complex consortium of microbes influences animals, namely marmots, in a variety of ways. Specifically, I want to understand if the marmot microbiome plays in role in how fat they are able to get prior to hibernation. Marmots must get as fat as possible to survive the winter, and understanding the factors that may influence this is of great importance for our research. I plan to do this via trapping animals and collecting fecal samples, and from this I will be able to sequence each individual marmot’s microbiome. I have yet obtain and analyze data, but I will keep everyone updated as my research progresses!