Through the wings of butterflies

Silas Dasgupta '13 elected to do a Summer Signature experience at the Osborne Memorial Lab at Yale University, studying butterfly wings.

For the past two months, I have been working at the Osborne Memorial Lab at Yale University for my Summer Signature program, and yesterday was my last day. I have been doing research on several butterflies from the Ithomiinae, Haeterini, and Acreini tribes (a level of classification in between subfamily and genus). What makes these butterflies so special is that they have translucent, and in some cases transparent, wings.
Every day, I would arrive at the lab at 9:00am to start my work. It would mostly consist of viewing my butterfly specimens under a microscope. I would look for “targets of interest,” unique areas on the wings that would range from transparent areas to eyespot locations. After finding a “target of interest,” I would capture a photo of that location after fiddling around with the lighting and the focus of the microscope.
Working at the lab has been both challenging and fun. I would have to keep track of my progress, get my butterfly specimens from the museum, go online to do research, etc. Also, once I had finished my research, I had to both give a presentation and write up a paper on my research.
During my research, I had to commute from my apartment in New Haven. Although I have been to summer camps before, this was the first time where I was really on my own. It was a little weird at first, but eventually I got used to it. To be totally honest, it was nice having a small taste of independency, even if it also brought on the taste of a lot of ramen noodles.
Overall, I had a great time with my Summer Sig. After my presentation was finished and my paper was handed in, Professor Antonia Monteiro, the head of the lab, congratulated me on my work, and told me that it was wonderful having me at the lab over the summer. I can honestly say that I had a great time over the summer. And who knows, if I am lucky, I might be able to go back next year.