MDWFP’s Mississippi Museum of Natural Science
Whether she’s in a cave, under the museum, or at her desk,
one thing’s for certain – Katelin is doing something related to bats!
Get to know her in the interview below.
WHAT’S YOUR WORKDAY LIKE?
It’s varied from day to day over the past three years that I’ve worked at the museum.
When the weather’s nice, I’m in the field surveying for bats – whether they’re in caves, culverts, or under bridges.
During the warmer months, I can be found at night in a creek with a mist net stretch trying to catch a bat or two.
When I’m in the office, I’m rarely at my desk. I can be found in the processing lab prepping museum specimens or I can be found working in our collection ranges. Some days, I’m working under the building repairing mist nets.
When I am at my desk, I’m working on our new bat database by inputting new and old data from our surveys.
ANY FUNNY WORK STORIES?
Last year, my colleagues Kathy Shelton and Chazz Coleman and I were surveying a cave to swab bats for white-nose fungus.
The cave’s bottom is full of thick, sticky mud and is always a challenge to survey.
I was leading the procession to the back of the cave when I saw a footprint in the mud. I said, “Oh look, a BARE footprint!”. What Chazz and Kathy heard was “Oh look, a BEAR footprint!”. I had to quickly explain before they left me by myself in the cave!
WOULD YOU SHARE A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND?
I grew up on the Mississippi coast in Bay Saint Louis. During high school, I decided I wanted to study wildlife after volunteering at a vet clinic that would work on wildlife.
I got my Bachelor’s at Mississippi State University and am currently pursuing a Master’s degree online with Clemson.
I love to craft. One of my favorite parts of my job is the amazing people I work with. There are a lot of creative ladies here at the museum that I have enjoyed creating decorations with for our events.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS CAREER?
I’ve always enjoyed the outdoors and wildlife watching.
I grew up climbing trees, scooping up minnows in the creek, catching grasshoppers and frogs, and fishing with my older brother and friends.
I’ve always wanted to work with animals and I chose a profession when I can spend my days outside.
Since starting this job, I can’t imagine working any other job!
HOW DOES YOUR JOB CONTRIBUTE TO CONSERVATION?
I study bats within Mississippi to track population trends within our 15 bat species.
My primary job is testing for white-nose fungus (pseudogymnoascus destructans) in bat hibernaculum, like caves, culverts, or under bridges.
Bat biologists as a whole can better understand how to combat the fungus by tracking where this fungus occurs.
ANY ADVICE FOR A STUDENT INTERESTED IN A BIOLOGY OR MUSEUM CAREER?
The best advice I can give anybody for any profession they want to pursue is to volunteer with someone in that job.
I volunteered at a vet clinic for four years and I found out that being a vet was not for me. I enjoyed what I did, but not as much as what I do now.
When I was in college, I would volunteer with Conservation Biologist Kathy Shelton and I found out that I love bats.
I also interned for the museum’s aquariums program in the summer of 2014.
Volunteering is a great way to test out that field and is also a great way to network.