Kayla Carter, Undergraduate student, Global Health Studies, African American Studies
Analyzes farmland biodiversity
“Kayla has been a campus leader in a variety of ways, including as a past director for Food Pantry West. Her current research is a deepening of her interdisciplinary interests in food sovereignty, DEI issues in agriculture, and sustainability.” -Karmen Berger, Associate Director and Senior Academic Advisor for Global Health Studies
• Hometown: Chicagoland area, Illinois
• Faculty mentor/advisor: Andrew Forbes, Associate Professor; Stephen Hendrix, Professor Emeritus
• What is your degree program and expected graduate date? I am a student majoring in Global Health Studies and African-American Studies, I had expected to graduate either in the spring or winter of 2022. *Iowa has had much in store for me, and so my graduation date has changed for the last couple of years (and is still subject to).
• Please describe your research: The flying pollinator research is essentially a record-keeping project wherein we positioned multiple insect traps at differing sites on an organic vegetable farm. These traps served to collect nearby insects to be analyzed for comparison, identification, and potentially mapping purposes. Our goal being to determine how a healthy agricultural ecosystem contributes to broader definitions of biodiversity.
• In simple terms, why does this research matter? This is an important undertaking because climate change induced by human activity is increasingly and continuously impacting natural systems. Considering our place in the animal kingdom, we must be aware of the ways earth is affected by our presence, good and bad. Amazingly, Grow: Johnson County is a farm that represents intentional agriculture, and the research shows that this method has beneficial impacts on the material world.
• How soon after starting at the University of Iowa were you able to participate in research? I have been at the University of Iowa for 5 years, however I actually got involved with this research through Grow: Johnson County; a local educational and charitable farm in Iowa City. I believe this has made me more successful with the University of Iowa because I am grounded by the relationship I have been able to establish with a local community organization.
• How has being involved in research made you more successful at the University of Iowa? I am encouraged and inspired by the innovation and camaraderie out on the farm, and it has taught me that those things can exist in professional and academic settings. Which is something that I had begun to lose faith in along the way; as sometimes work and school can become monotonous without proper focus.
• What are your career goals and/or plans after graduation? My career goals after graduation tend to vary; I am interested in traveling and collaborating with grassroots initiatives to advocate for human rights and secure finite resources. Sometimes I feel like this could be best accomplished by completing a graduate study program- if it comes to that I would be interested in urban/regional planning and public policy, as well as global health equity.
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