Julie Wiemerslage

Biological Sciences

Julie received her BS in biology with minors in animal ecology and anthropology from Iowa State University in the Spring of 2015. She spent her time at Iowa State working in the Janzen Lab of Ecological and Evolutionary Herpetology, where she was heavily involved in field work. The lab’s focus was elucidating the evolution of sex determiningmechanisms in reptiles with the painted turtle (Chrysemys picta) as the primary research system.

During her time in the Janzen Lab she worked on Dr. Janzen’s primary project, taking data from nesting painted turtles. She was also involved in collecting data for population modeling studies through aquatic trapping and radio telemetry. Additionally, Julie carried out her own study on nesting behavior as a National Science Foundation REU fellow in the summer of 2013.



Julie’s research interests involve evolution, ecology, and conservation. More specifically, she would like to investigate the role of behavior within those fields, and particularly in the context of the major anthropogenic pressures impacting contemporary populations of organisms. Our rapidly changing world requires organisms to adapt quickly in order to survive, and behavior is a mechanism uniquely suited to this challenge, as it changes on a much faster times scale than many evolutionary processes.

Julie’s interests lie in examining the potential fitness tradeoffs of behaviors, and the interface of adaptation and plasticity. She hopes to take an approach of integrative behavioral ecology to elucidate questions about the costs and benefits of various traits and their proximate and ultimate evolutionary functions. These questions are important to our understanding of organism-environment interactions, and their conservation applications should be significant, because behavioral adaptations are particularly vital for organisms to adjust to today’s changing world. The knowledge obtained through this research can then be used to effectively guide conservation efforts to protect the Earth’s biodiversity.

Julie’s goal is to become a research scientist and investigate these topics, but she is participating in the IGC program with the goal of finding applications for the research she does. Hopefully, she will produce research that is useful in guiding conservation!

Julie was raised in Gurnee, Illinois, where she spent a lot of her time playing in her wooded backyard or neighborhood ponds looking for frogs, fish, turtles etc. In the summer, she spent time at her family’s lake house in Michigan, where she enjoyed fishing and catching all sorts of critters. The love for being outdoors and fascination with animals that developed in Julie’s childhood caused her desire to pursue a career that would allow her to work outdoors and investigate questions about organisms. Furthermore, this affinity fueled her desire to protect the biodiversity that she enjoys so much.

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