Twins research environment for University

win sisters from Ponoka are working with University of Alberta research teams to further biological and psychological research

Victoria Wyering

Victoria Wyering

Twin sisters from Ponoka are working with University of Alberta research teams to further biological and psychological research on birds and earthworms

Kathryn and Victoria Wyering are taking part in the University of Alberta summer research Women in Scholarship, Engineering, Science and Technology (WISEST) program.

The sisters, who finished Grade 11 this year, were chosen to join 58 other Grade 11 students from across Canada to take part in WISEST.

Kathryn is working with the biological sciences research team, studying earthworms and the endangered Ferruginous Hawk. Victoria is studying the patterns of birdsong with the psychology department.

Applicants for the program were chosen based on specific factors. The students had to have above 85 per cent in all school subjects. There was also an essay and an application.

“I hoped me and my sister would get in because it sounded like a good opportunity,” said Kathryn.

Because of Kathryn’s love of biology in school, the program matched her with the biological sciences research team.

Kathryn and the team are using video surveillance to monitor the nests of the hawks. One thing they’re looking at is prey delivery.

“You get to actually see the hawks grow up,” said Kathryn.

The research team is also studying earthworms, which, according to Kathryn, are invasive to Alberta. The team is trying to find out how many anglers use the worms as bait and informing people not to release the worms into soil or water.

Victoria has spent her summer with the program measuring the calls of ravens.

“We’re measuring the actual call to see if ravens all over the world have similar dialects,” Victoria said. “It’s pretty cool.”

The research team is using stored audio clips of raven calls collected from Sweden and Austria to compare against their own.

In her application, Victoria said she liked biology and animals but she isn’t as sure about the paths of science and her future as Kathryn.

“I didn’t know about what I was going into,” Victoria said.

“It’s been a good opportunity to see the U of A a lot more,” said Kathryn. After graduating she’s thinking of returning to the university to take agriculture and animal sciences and nutrition.