“I want to understand how people affect the earth and create more awareness of the earth.”
Dr. Imoigele Aisiku Undergraduate Research Summer Fellowship
For much of the summer of 2013, the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology was like a second home to Kelly Cutting ’14. Under the direction of Assistant Professor of Biology Sebastian Velez, Ph.D., she studied Nuncia, a genus of a New Zealand arachnid commonly known as harvestmen or, in the United States, as daddy-long-legs.
“Working at Harvard was very exciting,” says Cutting, who is a nontraditional student with a four-year-old son. She received a Dr. Imoigele Aisiku Undergraduate Research Summer Fellowship to support her research. “Professor Velez offered me an incredible opportunity, and I was able to take advantage of it because of the fellowship.”
Using material on loan from the Te Papa Museum of Natural History of New Zealand, she and Velez worked on a taxonomic revision of several species, with plans to submit the revision for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.
Cutting, a biology major with a geography minor, has a strong interest in biogeography, the study of the distribution of animals on the planet. “Professor Velez’s organismal biology class was really challenging because he has high expectations,” she admits. “But I learned so much that it really helped me clarify my career goals. He’s a great mentor.”
She adds, “I plan to do research and teach on the college level someday. I want to understand how people affect the earth and create more awareness of the earth. In my heart, I’m a bit of a tree-hugger.”