Thompson Rivers University

Snake research garners prestigious scholarship

  Posted on: November 6, 2020

Dana Eye, Master of Science in Environmental Science

Dana Eye’s groundbreaking rattlesnake research has been recognized by the Fraser Basin Council, as the Master of Science in Environmental Science student has been awarded the Elizabeth Henry Scholarship for Communities and Environmental Health.

The $3,000 award is critical for Eye as she gets set to defend her thesis during what has been an incredibly rewarding yet—because of the coronavirus pandemic—unusual graduate school experience.

Under the supervision of Dr. Karl Larsen, and in collaboration with The Osoyoos Indian Band and the Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre, Eye initiated Western Canada’s first study on pregnant Western Rattlesnakes. To date, the research team has tracked the movements of 25 pregnant snakes and has identified 18 gestation sites. The data collected from these sites has provided critical information to land users and land managers.

Much of Eye’s time has also been spent doing community outreach. She developed resources for land users to increase their understanding of rattlesnake movement patterns, of how they give birth and of how to walk and work safely while in their habitat. 

“It is so important to ensure this information is conveyed properly, and that it is usable and useful,” she says.

“I think, like everyone has felt, this has been a very weird year. There has been progress, but then there have been delays,” says Eye, who admits it has been tough to focus now that she is working from home rather than from the lab, where she would normally be surrounded by her grad school peers.

“There is so much going on in the world that it is easy to get distracted,” she says. “This award could not have come at a better time.”

The Elizabeth Henry Scholarship for Communities and Environmental Health supports graduate students working on research projects in partnership with one or more British Columbia communities, including Indigenous communities, that are addressing air quality, environmental health issues and/or promoting environmental sustainability through co-operative initiatives.