Senior's COE Capstone Explores Biodiversity

Ask senior Divya Dendi what she's learned in the Certificate of Emphasis (COE) program, and she can tell you all about "Arthropod Diversity in Phytotelmata of Calathea capitata Plants from Peru." Dendi presented her capstone project on Wednesday, Sept. 29. 
Dendi conducted research under the mentorship of Dr. Caroline Chaboo, an entomologist at the University of Nebraska, and worked with Barstow faculty — COE Director Kay Hopkins, Dr. David Cramer and Terry Downs — to complete her research project. She analyzed arthropods found in water that collected in plants in Peru, compiled data and classified specimens through phylum, class, order, family, and genus. Identifying species is more precise work and is being continued by taxonomists, biologists who specialize in grouping organisms into categories.  

Dendi's original COE proposal to conduct research in a cancer lab was revised due to COVID-19 restrictions, but she said she was surprised by how much she enjoyed learning about phytotelmata, biodiversity and yes, bugs. "I really didn't like bugs at all when I was younger," she told upper school students while presenting her findings. But she became so comfortable with them during the project that she spent days precisely pinning tiny insects and arthropods on sample boards for study.

Barstow's Certificate of Emphasis program gives highly motivated Barstow upper school students the opportunity to conduct advanced, hands-on study in an area of special interest. The project-based learning experience emphasizes student initiative, passionate engagement and independent work reflecting a deep understanding of their subject. The COE program involves three main components: coursework, mentoring and networking with professionals in their field, and a capstone project of the student's design. Contact Kay Hopkins to learn more.

    • Senior Divya Dendi prsented her COE capstone project to upper school students on Wednesday, Sept. 29.