Kayla Wallace

High School Fellow


“When I started to educate myself on how badly humans work with the planet and the destruction that we're bringing upon it, it really made me want to do something. I thought the best way to do that was by dedicating my life to it with my career. Being outside is something I already like to do. So if I could use my scientific skills and merge the two, then I could actually make a difference. I think research is best for me because my strengths are in math and sciences.

I'm definitely interested in birds more than ticks. I learned about the uropygial gland yesterday and how that secretes the preen oil that birds use to clean themselves. I was hypothesizing whether the volume of preen oil that they produce correlates to how many ticks are embedded within them. How attracted are ticks to that oil? Because as birds grow older, the gland develops and we've noticed that the adult birds don't have as many ticks as the juveniles. So that's my interest for sure. I'm just figuring out a way to test it.”

How do you stay motivated throughout the day? You all wake up extremely early to come out here.

“I know how important Dr. Adalsteinsson’s work is. So I want to give it my all, give it 100 percent and make sure that the results that I record are accurate. And it's also just fun being outside! Even though it is very early, the payback is definitely worth it. I guess it sounds really corny, but you see the world waking up when you're out there that early.”

Kayla worked with Solny Adalsteinsson's Tick & Wildlife Ecology team during summer 2018. Learn more about their prescribed fire and tick-borne disease ecology research here.