Honors Summer Snapshots: Katie

Ever wonder what Honors students do during the summer? Honors Ambassadors and students will be taking you into their 2016 summer routines via photos. Iowa State research has taken Katie Hamilton all the way around the world to the Mariana Islands:

Hi everyone! My name is Katie Hamilton and I am a Sophomore majoring in Biology. I am spending the summer on the Mariana Islands working on the Ecology of Bird Loss research program which is led by Dr. Haldre Rogers at Iowa State. We are studying how the loss of birds on Guam, due to the Brown Tree Snake, affects plants.


I am currently living on Saipan, one of the islands being studied that has birds. For those like me and had never heard of Saipan (prior to a few months ago) – this map is pinned to my location.

Porch View

I start my day out with a quick breakfast on the porch – the front yard of the field house has a great view!


Sometimes I also water the plants in the two shade houses we have at the house. This shade-house is used for the bird germination trials, studying which seeds the birds are actually dispersing. In the other shade-house we are growing seedlings to transplant out into the jungle for the distance dependency project. This project is studying if various seedlings have a better chance of survival near or far from an adult tree of the same species.

Jungle Valley

Although the projects we are working on have been changing throughout the summer, this week we are looking for Neisosperma fruit which primarily grows in high quality forests. Our hunt for fruit led me and a few of my roommates down into this valley.


While traipsing through the jungle it is especially important to be on the lookout for spiders if you don’t want a giant spider web in your face.

Top of Forbi

However, searching for fruit has brought us to some pretty great views including the Forbidden Island Lookout!


Our evenings and weekends leave plenty of time for the beach, adventuring, and trying spicy food.

Mt. Tapochau

From the top of Mount Tapochau you can see the entire island of Saipan!

Bottom of FORBI

Last weekend I hiked down to the bottom of Forbidden Island – one of the many beautiful adventuring spots on Saipan.

Spicy Thai

Although the food was cheap and delicious, can everyone please take a moment to appreciate that the sign says “Noddle Place” not “Noodle Place”.


And finally I want to wish my mom a very Happy Birthday from halfway around the world!


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