Spring 2014

Thriving on Adventure–Indoors and Out

UW-Stevens Point alumna published in Journal of Raptor Research 

By Sydney Inks

Recent graduate Jenna Cava discovered a new bird species that is establishing habitat in Portage County and other Wisconsin counties through research she began as an undergraduate at UW-Stevens Point. The peer-refereed international Journal of Raptor Research accepted Cava’s lead-authored article, “Shift to Later Timing of Autumnal Migration Sharp-Shinned Hawks,” last fall.

Studying Cooper’s Hawks as an undergraduate, Cava and her mentor Professor Robert Rosenfield (Biology), who has a doctorate in zoology, discovered Merlin falcons in the Stevens Point area and conducted research co-authored by Andy Richardson, a UW-Stevens Point alumnus with a B.S. in Wildlife.

Cava is currently pursuing a master’s at the University of New England with a research focus on the causes and consequences of natal philopatry in Savannah Sparrows and Bobolinks in Vermont. She has received a NSF Graduate STEM Fellows in K-12 education to support her work. Currently, Cava is part of a long-term study on the effects of agricultural management on nesting grassland birds, focusing on Bobolinks and Savannah Sparrows.

“The study was started by my co-adviser Noah Perlut in 2002,” said Cava, “so I have a wonderful dataset from which to work and I will be able to do more fieldwork this coming summer.”

After completing her master’s at the University of New England, Cava plans to pursue a Ph.D.

UW-Stevens Point played a part in Cava’s success as she was mentored by faculty members who gave her guidance as she conducted research, co-authored two papers and lead-authored two other papers. “My Honors Internship with Bob Rosenfield was wonderful for helping me get involved with research early-on and follow through with presentations and publications,” said Cava. “My involvement as a project co-leader in the UW-Stevens Point Wildlife Society Chapter also helped me gain experience in wildlife research. All of the  hands-on experience certainly made me a great candidate for graduate school!”

As she continues her education, Cava is also in the review process of her third lead-authored paper based on her work in the Wildlife Society and independent study she completed at  UW-Stevens Point with Assistant Professor Jason Riddle (wildlife ecology-CNR).

As a graduate who had unique opportunities in her field of work and hands-on experiences, Cava gained insight on future possibilities of research prospects, career paths, and interests. With help from faculty at UW-Stevens Point, Cava was able to craft her own independent study program and begin her next adventure.


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