Students Discover: Pouring Over Our Pore Mites

Join Drs Michelle Trautwein & Dan Fergus, entomologists at NC State University and the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, to learn how scientists uncover the mysteries of mites.

Niney percent of the cells on your body aren’t human? Your body is a host to a whole ecosystem of microscopic organisms, many of which are critical to making you a happy and healthy individual. Most of these little cohabitants are bacteria, but not all. There is a group of animal that lives all over most our bodies, but it is so tiny you might never know they are there. They are called Demodex mites, and we know surprisingly little about them.

Become part of the team working in the Biodiversity Laboratory where scientists are making discoveries about life on Earth on a variety of scales. As a teacher working on Demodex, you work collaboratively with Dr. Michelle Trautwein, Dr. Dan Fergus and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Science to research the diversity of mites that infest various regions of the body. You’ll learn important biological research methods, participate in determining the direction of the research, and help translate the research into a form that teachers and students can use to learn about the organisms that make our bodies their homes.

Working closely with scientists you will learn a great deal about symbiosis, molecular biology, DNA sequence analysis, and evolutionary biology. You will get involved in novel research, helping answer unanswered questions, and exploring one of our most intimately associated animal companions. You will then utilize your expertise and enthusiasm for teaching by helping us bring figure out how to bring this research into the classroom and to address the guidelines of the common core curriculum. As a member of our team your input will be integral in shaping the educational experiences of middle schoolers across the state, and getting students excited about science by giving them the chance to take part in real world research. In this position you will be challenged to step outside of your comfort zone, to take on new experiences, and to push yourself to explore the world of human symbionts. We expect these challenges to be rewarded by personal development through encouraging thousands of students across North Carolina to become more scientifically literate, and hopefully by setting some on a path to pursue careers in science and technology.

These Fellows will conduct a three-day workshop for larger groups of teachers during the summer following their one-year traditional fellowship. Beyond these requirements, the Wake County Kenan Fellows selected for this project will work with the district to develop a model, intensive, 12-day Summer Bridge and Saturday Academy program for at-risk rising 9th graders that incorporates the ‘Citizen Science’ module.


Dr. Michelle Trautwein & Dr. Dan Fergus, NC State and NC Museum of Natural Sciences


Raleigh, NC


National Science Foundation Math Science Partnership