Cheyenne Graham, a doctoral student in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Michigan, has been appointed as a student representative for the Global Union of Bat Diversity Networks (GBatNet). This unique role offers her opportunities for training, research, and global networking in bat conservation.

Inspired from childhood by nature documentaries and spurred on by her undergraduate experiences, Graham's path led her to focus on the fascinating world of bats after a pivotal seminar presented by Dr. Kelly Speer. 

“I always had a deep interest in disease ecology and found bats fascinating, but I didn’t think it possible for me to conduct bat research until Dr. Kelly Speer gave a seminar talk here last year,” said Graham. “I reached out to her and expressed my interest in conducting research in her lab and the rest is history!”

As a representative for GBatNet, Graham will work on conservation projects and engage with fellow researchers to further the organization's mission. "As a student rep, our aim is to advance the mission of GBatNet and become future leaders in bat research/conservation," she says. 

With an intent to debunk common myths about bats, Graham is keen on communicating their importance. "Bats are key pollinators, essential for pest control and are needed for seed dispersal," she clarifies, challenging the misconception of bats being irrelevant to their ecosystems.

Facing the threats of habitat loss and white nose syndrome, Graham’s research in Belize aims to shed light on the impacts of ecological disturbances on bat populations. She is especially intrigued by their unique immune systems which enable bats to tolerate various pathogens without falling sick.

Her commitment extends beyond the scientific community to future generations. “I hope to be the bridge for the next generation of students,” Graham asserts, emphasizing her passion for broadening access to science. Her advice to undergraduates contemplating a career in her field is resolute: "Push forward… All big things have small beginnings."

Cheyenne Graham stands on the cusp of a significant step in bat research, ready to contribute to ecological understanding and serve as a guide for aspiring young scientists interested in this essential yet often overlooked field.