Monarch intern: Nick Oppedal

September 11, 2019

photo of Nick Oppedal - undergraduate research assistant

Nick Oppedal (left) is a research assistant for the Iowa State University monarch butterfly research team. Nick was recognized as a Student of Distinction at the 2019 ISU Student Employee of the Year awards. He recently completed an internship with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and graduated with a B.S. in Forestry from ISU in 2019. He has worked with USDA-ARS and the monarch team in the field and in the lab since 2015.

Why did you choose Iowa State for college? I chose Iowa State because it was close to home, and they offer great natural resource programs.

What's the most useful thing you've learned as a student? By far, the most important thing I learned as a student was time management. 

Why did  you choose Forestry for you major? I chose to major in Forestry because I would like to do my part to restore Iowa's natural forest ecosystems.

Why are you interested in the monarch butterfly? I am interested in the dramatically altered natural landscape in Iowa. Along with that, problems that have arisen as a result, including habitat loss for species such as the monarch butterfly. I am hopeful for the future because of the programs available to assist landowners with restoration.

Describe your internship experience with the monarch team: I have worked for the monarch team since May of 2015, primarily through USDA-ARS. I am part of the insect rearing team that maintains colonies of monarch butterflies year-round on the ISU main campus. We use the larvae and adults from the colonies for ongoing research projects. It has been really amazing to see the growth of the team since I started, with many more graduate students and the interesting research projects that they do.

What's the most useful thing you've learned as an intern? The most useful thing I have learned as an intern is how to manage the collective time and resources of people in the lab to meet the goals for any particular day, while also accommodating last-minute requests and special projects.

How do you hope to apply what you have learned in the future? I see myself using my ability to juggle multiple tasks and prioritize them, based on deadlines and relative importance, in my future career.

How can Iowa citizens help the monarch butterfly? Plant native plants!