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O! Canada: Haase takes cohort to NASBR; named to Board of Directors

By: Colby Wilson December 6, 2023


Photo: Leah Crowley presents a poster at the North American Society of Bat Research.

CLARKSVILLE – Dr. Catherine Haase, a professor at Austin Peay State University’s biology department, recently led her lab of graduate students northward to Winnipeg for the North American Society of Bat Research (NASBR) conference to present research and network with a who’s-who of bat experts, researchers, scientists and devotees.

“It’s a wonderful conference,” Haase said. “I’ve been to a lot of different conferences in my career, and I think this one is one of the only ones I have routinely gone back to every year because the presentations are really great. It’s also a wonderful conference for students. Everyone is very welcoming and warm, and they do a lot of student-centered activities to be sure students feel involved.”

Brandon Gulley and Leah Crowley presented at the conference. Gulley showcased his thesis on perceived predation impacts on bats in an oral presentation, while Leah presented her thesis on Texas bats evading white-nose syndrome in a poster presentation. Fellow graduate student Dakota Van Parys joined them.

Haase called the curling fundraiser that started the conference “so much fun.”

"I had never been curling before, and I was very excited," she said. "A lot of the bat researchers are from Canada, so they’re into those Canadian sports."

The curling set a casual, welcoming tone for the conference. Teacher workshops explored how to integrate bat research into classrooms, and outreach workshops trained attendees to educate the public after a day of outstanding student presentations.


Photo: Brandon Gulley presents at the conference.

Gulley, a retired Army veteran who taught public speaking, had a new feeling as he presented to the room.

“It was intimidating,” he said. “By the time I reached the point I was teaching in the Army, I was an expert on everything at my level. But now, here I was standing in front of these professionals as an amateur, being introduced by Dr. Nancy Simmons [one of the curators of the American Museum of Natural History], whose book I was just reading. It’s a bit of a tough act to follow.”

Intimidation aside, Gulley welcomed the conversations in Winnipeg, which yielded discoveries for both the presenter and the attendee.

“Getting that feedback is so invaluable,” he continued. “There were great ideas that came from those discussions, from people coming up to me and asking questions.”

Crowley had some experience presenting during her undergraduate days at the University of Tennessee, although hers was more regional than at the level of NASBR. The experience showed her the vastness of the bat community and the opportunities in education and beyond.

“The bat community, in general, is one of the most welcoming groups of people I’ve ever gotten to meet,” she said. “I know I’m still new to the world, but everyone has been so encouraging about helping get my research out. It’s not this big competition; everyone wants to see each other succeed. And I got to talk to so many older, experienced scientists during these sessions who had so many ideas; nobody ever gets tired of doing bat research.”


Photo: Dr. Catherine Haase and Dakota Van Parys at the conference.

While in Winnipeg, Haase won election to the NASBR Board of Directors. She will do much more than participate actively as a board member. Haase will serve on the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee and chair the Auction and Sponsorship Committee, responsible for securing sponsorships for student awards and auction items, with proceeds funding travel for global experts to attend the North American convention.

She also serves on the policy committee for a fundamental reason—to force herself to learn the policies.

“I had mentioned my interest in joining the board before, and I was thrilled to be nominated,” Haase said. “My goal as a new member is to bring in some professional training in the DE&I space, in both faculty and agency settings. And, of course, getting new blood onto policy committees is always good.”

Haase presented a poster to attract collaborators for an ongoing research project. In addition to the presentations, ample networking took place.

“It’s a great opportunity to interact with researchers who I’ve read papers by but never met," she said. "And the students just blow me away every year."

Haase especially looks forward to the 2024 meeting in Guadalajara, as the conference annually rotates through the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. The geographic range lets researchers connect with colleagues they might not meet otherwise.


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