Inspired by two field seasons spent falling in love with Kaua’i’s forest birds as a field assistant with KFBRP, Maria has shifted roles and is now a PhD student at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She is a member of Dr. Floyd Reed’s lab of the Zoology graduate program, whose focus has been on blocking avian malaria transmission to Hawaiian birds. For her own project, Maria plans to use molecular techniques to analyze ‘Akikiki and ‘Akeke’e (both insectivorous honeycreepers) fecal samples to determine diet as it relates to time and space. Ultimately, she hopes to better understand the role of diet and invertebrate abundance on occupancy rates. She will begin collecting data for her project in the field this spring followed immediately with lab work. Maria has already successfully acquired funding from the Hawaii Audubon Society and was awarded the 2017 Watson T. Yoshimoto fellowship.