Buies Creek, N.C.-So far, Mosquito and tick bites have presented the greatest challenge to Campbell University senior Jamie McCann during an internship with the Student Conservation Association and National Park Service on Fire Island, N.Y this summer.
McCann, who completes the four-month internship on August 14, is working on a project to assess and inventory invasive species of plants, as well as treat the infested areas through chemical or mechanical means to preserve the native plant material. He has also been collecting and preserving a variety of different native and invasive species to donate to the Campbell University Botany Department.
"I am really interested in botany," said McCann, a biology major. "I'd like to continue on to graduate school and maybe become a professor."
McCann said he has learned a great deal about barrier island ecosystems through the internship.
"They have a very old holly maritime forest here which is one of the only forests of its kind in the United States," he said. "I've also learned a lot about how invasive species interrupt the natural processes and inhibit the growth of the native species on the island."
But the most difficult part of the internship was being in the field. "The mosquitoes and ticks are the worst here that I have ever seen before," he said. "I have endured more bites than most people probably get in a lifetime!"
McCann plans to use the experience he's gained to conduct some of his own research on invasive plant species under the guidance of his Campbell professors.
"I have chosen a career in science because of the vast opportunities in the field," he said. "But I also like all of the research opportunities and the discovery of scientific applications."
McCann, who tutors botany students and will be teaching an environmental science lab this year, is the son of Stephen and Rosalie McCann, of Cary, N.C. He has a sister Karlee.