GLI Student Experiences: Balanding Manneh

Within all three of the Global Locust Initiative's pillars of facilitating fundamental and applied research, creating and maintaining a global network of locust practitioners, and developing local solutions to the global challenge of locust plagues, we strive to enable student success. After working in the Cease Lab and with GLI during his time as a Master Card Fellow at ASU, one of our fantastic students, Balanding Manneh, graduated with his bachelor in biology in spring 2018.

Throughout his time in the Cease Lab, Balanding offered integral support in lab and research activities, even helping with fieldwork in Senegal in 2015 and 2016. He is now pursuing a Master of Public Health at the University of British Columbia. He sent us the following update to summarize his time with the Cease Lab.

We wish you the best of luck in your future studies, and we know you'll have great success based on your time at Arizona State University, Balanding!

Working in Senegal:

"I have always looked out for opportunities to do work that is directly linked to the West African region, and working in the Cease Lab has allowed me to do just that. Joining the team enabled me to work with farmers and collaborators in Senegal conducting interviews, collecting samples and data, translating and so on for the locust research project. Through the lab, I joined the School of Life Sciences Undergraduate Research program where, in addition to working in the lab, I learned about other aspects of research such as how to communicate scientific findings, write and present research posters, and how to write proposals."

Balanding (right) with Cease Lab members Ruth Farington (center) and Mira Word (left) in Senegal in 2016.

Thesis project:

"I recently completed my undergraduate thesis research project under the supervision of Drs. Cease and Overson looking at the 'Effects of Nitrogen Fertilization on the Growth and Reproduction of the South American Locust (Schistocerca Cancellata).' In short, I fertilized wheatgrass with urea and fed it to the locusts, weighed them every three days for eight weeks — and during this time I measured their growth, survival, reproduction and muscle mass. I am currently working on the data with the goal of publishing my findings."

Nonprofit work:

"Some of my interests are in areas of malnutrition, hunger and food security, and I pursue these by working with farmers and women in my home country of The Gambia through a nonprofit I founded called Rural Impact. Fortunately, it is in these types of farming communities that our research in Senegal is conducted in, which is another reason why I like the work the Cease Lab does in Senegal. In March 2018, I had the opportunity to share my passion and work  with the ASU community at the annual TEDxASU event. As one of the highlights of my experiences at ASU, the opportunity allowed me to both network and build connections with the wider ASU community."

GLI locust facilities, where Balanding spent much time conducting research.

Parting notes:

"I deeply value all the experiences and skills that I gained working in the lab because not all undergraduate students have the opportunity to conduct research or work with researchers. I believe that these skills and experiences — the research skills and other skills such as teamwork and public speaking — will come in handy in graduate school and beyond."

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