My research projects generally involve questions that cannot be addressed directly with human capabilities. This includes questions concerning the behavior of nocturnal animals like bats and armadillos and sounds that humans cannot hear or reproduce naturally. Fortunately, in the past 20 years there has been a dramatic increase in the types of electronic equipment that scientists can access while the costs have generally been decreasing to purchase this equipment. In addition, the software to analyze the data collected by these devices has become more sophisticated and easier to use. Here I will go over a few of the different systems I am working with.
My initial work in this area started out with software, because the bar to entry was fairly low since computers were already required for the research in which I was involved. I have programmed in a variety of languages over the years and at this point I am reasonably proficient in a variety of different ones and have even begun to move into programming apps for Android-based smart phones. Electronics was something I picked up in graduate school, but my abilities there are generally limited to assembling circuits that are designed mostly or entirely by someone else. Luckily, the Internet has given me access to a lot of such designs for free! I was able to combine these two areas through the use of programmable microcontrollers, so I can take my programming and extend it to allow me to develop devices that I would not be able to design from scratch.
I am constantly looking for new ways to use these devices and for improvements to what I'm already doing, so if you have an interest in electronics or programming of almost any sort, there is probably a way to work that into a research project!
Click on the links below for more information: