Researching the Senses

Alayna Mackiewicz, a Ph.D. student in the department of biology in UNC’s College of Arts & Sciences, is the 2021 recipient of The Gordon W. and Janice L. Plumblee Summer Research Fellowship.

The Summer Research Fellowship, supported by generous donors and by The Graduate School, funded her travel to Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and her research in sensory biology.

In her research, Mackiewicz seeks to learn more about how some marine animals use earth’s magnetic field for navigation and migration.

Mackiewicz said better understanding earth’s magnetic field and how marine animals use their magnetic sense could have real-world applications, including at the Department of Defense and helping marine animal conservation efforts.

“A lot of people are interested in it in terms of an additional way of navigation,” Mackiewicz said. “It has implications for non-GPS satellite ways to navigate.”

At Carolina, Mackiewicz said the research conducted in the Lohmann Lab drew her to the program and that the Summer Research Fellowship allows for hands-on training that she can bring back to the lab.

“The fellowship allows me the freedom to pursue and make progress in my dissertation research and alleviate financial stress,” she said.

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