Andrew Cox: Passion wins national fellowship
Jan. 1, 2006
COLUMBIA, Mo. – In 2001, Andrew Cox was a corporate worker with a solid paycheck. He wasn’t satisfied, though. He knew he hadn’t found what he really wanted to do yet. So he scrapped his corporate job, tried a few things out, went back to school and embarked on a career studying birds in the woods — about as far from cubicle life as you can get.
That’s passion, and passion is a requirement for a life in science. It’s also one reason, among many, that Andrew Cox won a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship. He is one of only 1,000 in the country who earned the selective fellowship.
In return for his passion and promising work, he receives a stipend of more than $40,000 each year, plus other benefits.
Cox also highlights the importance of working with children. In fact, interacting with kids at zoos and during his early fieldwork helped him make the decision to pursue science as a career. Now, he and fellow MU students are starting an outreach program to promote science to kids in Columbia schools.
Working with kids is Cox’s way of giving back to the community, but it also keeps him grounded. “Kids at a certain age, they just soak up everything you have to say and get so excited about it,” he says. “That reminds you of why you were excited about it.”
Cox gets excited about birds. He uses the NSF fellowship to support his doctoral research in biological sciences. Working with Professor John Faaborg, he studies birds and the animals that prey upon their nests. Specifically, Cox studies how the way people use land affects the types of animals that prey on nests and, in turn, how that relates to the reproductive success of the birds.
In the past, researchers could theorize about these changes only indirectly, but Cox is using a direct technique: digital video recorders. Cox places recorders near nests to watch predatory activities and compile data. The work involves a lot of time in the field and a lot of time spent watching video recordings. Lucky for Cox, that’s part of his newfound passion.
News by research strength
- Cell Biology
- Genetics & Genomics
- Molecular Biology
- Plant Biology
- Quantitative & Computational Biology