Majors: Biosciences (Integrative Biology) and Physics (Biological Physics)
Research Advisor: Volker Rudolf
What do bird watching, researching amphibians and studying physics have in common? For Jasmine Xiong, these activities allow her to understand and appreciate the living world around her.
Jasmine is a sophomore currently pursuing a double major in biosciences and physics. For biosciences, her major concentration is integrative biology, an interdisciplinary field that combines ecology and molecular biology. “In order to learn ecology better, we have to learn the molecular side as well,” Jasmine explained. “For example, there's chemical ecology about pollination, and that's where organic chemistry would be handy to use, but organic chemistry isn't required in the ecology major.”
Jasmine’s background in physics, in which she is pursuing a major concentration in biological physics, helps her in her ecology research, where mathematics and modeling are valuable tools for understanding how changes in temperature due to global warming threaten different species of amphibians. In the lab of Volker Rudolf, a professor of biosciences at Rice, Jasmine has been working on a research project looking for trends in the temperature ranges that amphibians can tolerate at different life stages and in different geographic locations. Her research has applications for understanding the current and future impacts of climate change on amphibians and biodiversity, while emphasizing the need to protect these amphibian species and restore their habitats.
As an international student from China, Jasmine spent her freshman year taking online Rice classes at the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, China as a part of Go Local, a program that aided Chinese international students during the COVID-19 pandemic, when obtaining visas was difficult. “Ecology normally requires a lot of data collection in the field, but due to COVID-19, we couldn't really do that in the first year,” she said. Instead, much of Jasmine’s research has used meta analysis, or performing additional analyses on previously collected ecology data.
Jasmine was drawn to Rice because of its tight-knit community and low student-to-faculty ratio. “It’s a small community, and it gives you a lot of attention for your research.” This year is Jasmine’s first full year physically at Rice, and she has found a love for the campus as well as its birds, her favorite of which is the great horned owl. “There's a great horned owl at Rice next to Huff House.” she said. “There's two of them, and I was hoping they could breed.”
After Rice, Jasmine is hoping to attend graduate school to continue her studies in ecology or perhaps an interdisciplinary field combining her interests in physics and biology.