Melanie conducted a research project with Dr. Davis in the fall of 2010 that was aimed at understanding the functional significance of mammalian fur. Specifically, she compared the fine-scale physical properties of hairs from museum specimens of a species of squirrel that varies in pelage color (fox squirrel). She asked if black-furred individuals have unique hair traits that compensate for their increased solar heat gain, and she used digital image technology to answer this question. Her results were very interesting, and she presented them at the spring 2011 CURO symposium in the form of a poster (see link), and she contributed to a manuscript that was published in the journal Current Zoology.
Photo - Melanie at the Georgia Museum of Natural History on campus, opening a cabinet with fox squirrel specimens.