Brandi Blattner and Jordyn Messling assisted Dr. Jeanne Minnerath with summer tick research.

Brandi Blattner and Jordyn Messling assisted Dr. Jeanne Minnerath with summer tick research.

Collecting ticks might not sound like a great summer job. But two students had the opportunity to perform real-world field research alongside one of their professors, and to contribute data that will be analyzed by the state in its effort to control the disease-carrying insect. Helping Dr. Jeanne Minnerath of the Biology Department last summer were two Biology Pre-Physical Therapy majors, Brandi Blattner and Jordyn Messling.

The work involved the invasive Japanese barberry plant, a prickly species that creates a habitat that the Minnesota Department of Health and Department of Agriculture suspects is desirable for ticks. Dr. Minnerath and her students conducted a pilot study in barberry-infested sites in Wabasha and Houston Counties. Additional sites without barberry infestations were also surveyed for comparison.

Dr. Minnerath considers this kind of research a win-win situation. She depends on student help—and students make good contacts, gain valuable experience, and build their résumés.