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Leading the Way for Conservation

Clara Lepard, B.S. Zoology 2017 MSU and Rhodes Scholar 2018, presents her current research on developing innovative conservation solutions at MSU and around the world. Presented to the MSU Board of Trustees on April 13, 2018.

Viewpoint: MSU Rhodes Scholar

When I first arrived at Oxford, I was amazed by the history evident in the ancient stones of the architecture around me. The city is beautiful and it felt like I had stepped into a time machine, transported to an unspecified earlier time when there was just a little more mystery in the world. It seemed like I was peering through a window into the past.

Now that I’ve had a couple of months to settle in, my thoughts have shifted. I don’t think of the past as a separate time, distantly removed from my own life. The past and the present come together in Oxford and you can feel that connection everywhere you go.

Eating lunch in my college’s dining hall with the portraits of the founders gazing down at you, it’s easy to imagine young students of the past chatting about their studies and cracking jokes over a warm meal. Our academic gowns swish in a timeless fashion when we travel as a group down narrow cobblestone streets.

In the chapel, the whispers of students waiting their turn to sign a ceremonial tome could be from any century. I feel like a part of history here – history that is deeply rooted in the past and that extends far into the future. I want to make every moment count, and I’m very grateful for the opportunity to do so.

Clara Lepard is an Honors College alumna who graduated with a degree in zoology from the College of Natural Science and became a Rhodes Scholar in 2018. She was the 18th student from MSU to earn the recognition.

Lepard, who’s from East Lansing and graduated from East Lansing High School, is pursuing a doctorate at the University of Oxford and researching the behavioral ecology of large carnivores, specifically lions in East Africa, along with working on community conservation efforts.

While at MSU, Lepard worked in seven different laboratories on separate areas of zoology and wildlife management. One summer, she worked with the Research on the Ecology of Carnivores and their Prey (RECaP) Laboratory studying how carnivores impact their surrounding species and ecosystems in Uganda under the direction of Associate Professor Robert Montgomery.

In 2015, Lepard earned a first-place award at the University Undergraduate Research & Arts Forum (UURAF) for her research on the long-term effects of lampricide application on the metamorphosis of sea lamprey. She also participated in Professor Kay Holekamp’s Behavioral Ecology of African Mammals education abroad program in Kenya in 2016.

  • Honors College, HConnections Magazine

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