Aja Anderson majored in biology and forensic science, and was among the first graduating class of UP. In April, she was awarded the Laurie Henneman Outstanding Student Presentation Award for Best Undergraduate Research Oral Presentation at the Montana Academy of Science Annual Conference.

She recently graduated this May and embarked on her next journey to Cuzco, Peru on a research trip. She spent nine days in the jungle studying three parts of the forest: deforested, partly deforested, and selectively logged. They discovered that the logged portion of the forest was where most animals were known to live.

The goal of the projects was to ensure that deforested areas still have the potential to be good habitats for animals if conservation efforts occur there. The projects were mainly focused on entomology, and Aja worked with butterfly’s and reptiles. She sampled the butterflies at three different heights to compare their activity at the different strata. Aja was also able to visit a nearby city where the company she worked with had built 32 bio-gardens to feed different families and one dedicated to just feeding pregnant mothers.

Aja said, “This trip taught me that saving the Amazon Rainforest can save much more than just the animals that live there. Conservation is an issue that affects everyone and everyone can help just by changing small things in a person’s lifestyle.”