In 2009, Brittney completed the dual degree program at Virginia Tech, receiving Bachelor of Science degrees in both Biochemistry and Biology. As an undergraduate, Brittney volunteered in the Hopkins’ lab and later entered into the undergraduate research program, FLeDGE, with PhD student Sarah DuRant as her mentor. For her senior thesis project, she examined the effects of incubation temperature on locomotor performance in wood ducks (Aix sponsa) early in ontogeny. This project fueled her passion for research and solidified her decision to stay on board with the lab and work towards a Master’s degree.
For her Master’s thesis, Brittney developed non-destructive sampling techniques to quantify mercury concentrations and associated reproductive effects in snapping turtles (Chelydra serpentina) inhabiting historically contaminated site in order to provide information for local agencies to determine safe human consumption limits, assess ecological risk, and enable future monitoring efforts to be conducted in a sustainable manner. While conducting Master’s research, Brittney frequently participated in several local outreach events in order to share her findings and promote turtle conservation.
Now located in the Southwest, Brittney has joined the Dr. Blair Wolf’s lab in pursuit of a PhD at the University of New Mexico. For her dissertation, Brittney will quantify thermal and hygric limits of small mammals inhabiting various areas across a rapidly changing Southwestern landscape. She hopes to use these physiological parameters to model current and future species distributions of small mammal communities in relation to current and projected climatic models.