Nitya Rao


I am a senior political science major from Chester, Virginia. I grew up on the banks of the James River and spent most of my formative years mucking about for salamanders. At Davidson College, I have been lucky enough to combine my interests in herpetology and political philosophy into a coherent career path - I hope to one day work in the science and technology policy sector.


I have been leading the outreach program here since my freshman year. Over the past 3 years, I have given more 30 presentations at local schools, museums, and conservation events and worked with more than 1,300 local students. In addition, I organize the Herpetology Lab's annual Reptile Day. Our attendance has skyrocketed during my time at Davidson. In 2012, we had over 1,000 community members come to Reptile Day, and this popularity is testament to our lab members' committment to conservation and education.


In addition to my work as Outreach Coordinator, I am also involved in research here at Davidson College. I spent the summer following my freshman year working on a synthetic biology project lead by two Davidson professors. This year, I have returned to that same lab to work on a molecular ecology project. I am investigating a new species detection method that will enable scientists to quickly and easily detect the presence of cryptic species.