Andrew Evans

Meet UCLA senior, Andrew Evans, who is majoring in Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution. He recently published a paper as first-author titled, “Producer–scrounger relationships in yellow-bellied marmots” in Animal Behaviour.

Andrew works in Dr. Daniel Blumstein’ lab in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.


How did you first get involved in your research project?

In my first year at UCLA, I talked with my academic counselors about being involved in research, and they recommended the PI that would be a good match. I simply sent an email to Dan Blumstein (a faculty researcher) and ended up doing lab work for a quarter before moving on to other data collection based on my initial interests. I just kept doing the work, did it well for a year, and was nice enough that Dan and my grad student mentor, Dana Williams, asked me to join them and the marmot team in the field for the following summer. After working in the Rocky Mountains with them, I started my project on social foraging with some of the data I had helped collect in the field. It really was a matter of me getting in there, sticking to it, and one thing leading to the next.

How would you describe your research experience at UCLA?

At the start, I was able to learn the foundations of research, while observing how my grad student mentors and PI perform their research at the next level up. As I’ve gotten more confident with the process and more friendly with the other lab members, I’ve been able to speak up and contribute more of my ideas to the lab’s work and discussions. So it’s really been an entry-level footing into research work that’s allowed me to see what a career in research would be like. Also a lot of fun, weird stories. I’ve been involved with two labs at UCLA, and both have been fun to work in and fun to tell others about. I guess not many people get to pet baby marmots, chase foxes, and look at computerized dog skulls for hours on end.

What is one piece of advice you have for other students thinking about getting involved in research?

Know that you’re not supposed to know everything yet. Be confident reaching out, knowing that these researchers are expecting undergrads to reach out, and be comfortable asking questions if things aren’t clear along the way. Be open and friendly. The biggest part of research as an undergrad is getting comfortable in the research process and the surrounding community of researchers. So if you’re simply coming in, doing the work, doing the tasks, and leaving every day without talking to anyone, you’re missing out on the opportunity to make your work more fun, make new friends, and get closer to people who can be helpful resources in the future.

What are your future career goals?

I’m looking to get into a career (and further education later) in natural resources, sustainable resource use, conservation, and restoration. I’m getting my degree in ecology, so I’m looking for a career that uses the principles I’ve been learning about in class to make real efforts at improving our natural world and our relationship to it.