U of M professor honored at White House for butterfly research


University of Minnesota Professor Karen Oberhauser was honored at the White House Tuesday morning, according to MinnPost, for years of butterfly research, including a 16-year-old project that tracks monarch butterflies in North America.

Oberhauser, whose work is funded by the National Science Foundation, is one of 12 Champions of Change in Citizen Science.

The Monarch Larva Monitoring Project (MLMP) is made possible using hundreds of volunteers, or citizen scientists, across the U.S. and Canada who donate about an hour per week recording data.

"They observe up to several hundred monarch host plants (milkweeds), often collect eggs and caterpillars to rear for a parasite study, and record data on flowering plants at their site," Oberhauser says in the program's blog. "My responsibility to MLMP volunteers is to help ensure that the scientific, educational, and conservation potential of their data is realized."

Citizen scientists working on the project also lead the way in monarch preservation efforts locally and nationally.

At the University of Minnesota Extension, Oberhauser and her colleagues are using the MLMP model to develop citizen science programs focused on birds and monarchs for youth research.

Oberhauser teachers conservation biology, insect ecology, global climate change and monarch butterfly population dynamics at the university, MinnPost reports. She also began "Monarchs in the Classroom," a project for K-12 schools, in 1991 and holds educational workshops for teachers.

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