Monarch intern: Amanda Kiehl

February 25, 2019

photo of A. Kiehl in the toxicology lab

Amanda Kiehl is an undergraduate research assistant with the ISU monarch butterfly research team. Kiehl, a native of Sully, Iowa, is a senior in microbiology with a wide variety of research and medical laboratory work experience in Des Moines and Ames. She has worked with the monarch team on dsRNA analyses in the lab since 2018.

What did you enjoy the most about growing up in Iowa? What I enjoyed the most about growing up in the Midwest is the small town feel.

Why did you choose Iowa State for college? I chose ISU for college because they have a great reputation for science-related degrees, which was exactly what I was looking for. It also allowed me to stay near my family. 

Why did you choose Microbiology for your major with a minor in Emerging Infectious Diseases? I chose Microbiology because I fell in love with the field after taking a micro class at DMACC. I found it to be extremely interesting, and it kept me wanting to learn more. I chose Emerging Infectious Diseases for my minor because I think it's an excellent and extremely interesting field to do research in -- for my future graduate studies and, potentially, for my future career. 

Why are you interested in the monarch butterfly? Or milkweed? I'm interested in broadening my research experience. Learning about monarch butterflies and milkweed toxicology is an interesting and fun topic to study.

Describe your internship experience with the monarch team: I started off as an intern in the monarch rearing lab. It is pretty cool to get to see the different life stages of monarch butterfly development. Since then, I switched to a double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) project for testing milkweed with different types and concentrations of dsRNA in order to see how it could potentially affect monarchs. This is a very new project, but I'm excited to play a role in the final outcome.

What's the most useful thing you learned as an intern? The most useful thing I've learned as an intern is that communication is everything. I've experience this this before, but being an intern really solidifies how important it is.

How do you hope to apply what you have learned in the future? I hope to apply what I've learned here -- such as techniques and protocols -- in future research projects during graduate school. 

How can Iowa citizens help the monarch butterfly? I think that Iowa citizens can help the monarch butterfly by being aware of the type of pesticides that they're using; whether it be on farms or in personal gardens.

photo of A. Kiehl in the toxicology lab