As an undergraduate, Ishana Shukla has not been shy about participating in research. She has worked in seven different labs, completed six internships, and developed and taught a student-directed seminar, “Undergraduates in Research.” Her project, “Variation in resting strategies across trophic levels and habitats in mammals” recently received one of the Physical and Biological Science Division’s prestigious Chancellor’s Awards.
Please tell us about your experience at UC Santa Cruz.
Without exaggeration, I can say that studying at Santa Cruz has changed my life’s trajectory. I never had much experience with ecology before coming to UCSC, but the faculty opened doors for me that I didn’t even know existed. It was so inspiring to read about these amazing scientists in my free time, and then to be able to attend a seminar and mingle with those same scientists. The passion in the Ecology and Evolutionary Department is palpable, and I can’t even begin to count the number of mentors that have helped me to foster my passion. Every day I remain in awe of the campus, the students, and the faculty.
What are your research interests and goals?
I am interested in studying wildlife biology, or more specifically, the community impacts that large carnivores have on terrestrial systems, and how human disturbance alters those dynamics. As I continue on to graduate school at the University of Victoria, I hope to delve further into the world of large carnivore reintroductions. One day, I’d love to be a professor myself, a position in which I could conduct the research that I’m so in love with, and also help to foster the next generation of scientists.
What have been some of your accomplishments at UC Santa Cruz?
I was fortunate enough to be extremely involved in the EEB department. I participated as an undergraduate researcher in seven labs, completed six internships, and served as the undergraduate representative for the department for two years, as well as on the department’s diversity committee. With support from the amazing faculty, I was able to complete two senior theses, one of which has just been accepted into a peer-reviewed journal. My final accomplishment, and the one that I am most proud of, was developing and teaching BIOE 199F, Undergraduates in Research, a student-directed seminar. Here I was able to teach other undergraduates professional skills in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and I got to know some truly amazing and inspiring students.
What advice do you have for incoming UC Santa Cruz students?
Above all, let passion be your driver. None of this means anything if you’re not happy or in love with what you are doing. Once you identify your passion, couple that with hard work and you’ll be unstoppable. Expose yourself to as much as you can, and remember that you regret your inactions the most. Finally, be continuously thankful, and know yourself enough to realize that you have so much power! Good luck, and you’ll do great.
Congratulations to Ishana and all of our 2021 Chancellor’s and Dean’s Award winners! For a full list of winners and descriptions of their projects, please visit the Dean’s and Chancellor’s Awards website.