Missouri State University
Abilene Mosher

Abilene Mosher

  • Lab manager
  • Auburn, Alabama
  • BS, Wildlife Conservation and Management, 2022

Blazing a career path in conservation

Abilene Mosher knows that an active role in preserving the natural world is not just a career, but a lifelong passion.

Imagine a day-to-day life filled with adventure and purpose.

For Abilene Mosher, this means having a career where she can explore and protect "the great outdoors."

Her love for nature and research made wildlife conservation and management a good fit for her.

"I learned that I really, really enjoy doing research, and I enjoy being outside. I wanted my job to be something outside."

Initially, Mosher decided to attend Iowa State University, but she soon realized that she wanted to stay closer to her hometown of Odessa, Missouri.

Hearing about her friends' plans to attend Missouri State, she jumped at the chance to join them.

"I had a good group of friends going. And all of us went into different majors and stuff, so none of us had classes together. But it was nice to have the familiarity. And only being two and a half hours from home was really great," Mosher said.

Internship experiences reveal her true passion

Mosher entered college as a pre-vet biology major.

While in the honors program, Mosher took on an internship opportunity at the Dickerson Park Zoo, assisting the zookeepers and the zoo's veterinarian.

While she enjoyed the learning experience, she discovered the emotional challenges that veterinarians face when working with animals and realized that the veterinary field wasn't the ideal career path for her.

"Being able to do my internship the first year of undergrad and learn that what I thought I wanted to do since I was 10 years old was incorrect...that was crazy," Mosher said.

Rethinking her degree plan, Mosher sought the guidance of her advisor, Dr. Avery Russell, an assistant professor in biology.

Mosher soon got involved in undergraduate research projects in Dr. Russell's lab.

Her newfound research skills shone a light on her professional interests.

"I just love that I was able to do my own project, and that I had so much say in the research I was doing and the work I was putting in," she said.

Sharing discoveries in her pollinator research

Mosher thrived in her studies when she switched her major to wildlife conservation and management.

"I was able to really fix my schedule to be exactly the classes that I thought would benefit me, and I really enjoyed that," she said.

For almost three years, Mosher conducted extensive research to uncover a chemical that is emitted by anthers, the pollen-producing part of a flower.

She concluded that the chemical from the anther triggers a natural response in bumblebees called buzz pollination, where bees will shake their abdomen to release and collect pollen.

"I love this work. I love that I got to do outside stuff. Doing research. Hands-on things that are helping conservation," Mosher said.

"The fact that they allowed me to do internships and do research – I think those two things really propelled me."

She delivered presentations at many conferences and secured several grants to continue her research before graduating in December 2022.

Envisioning a greener future

Mosher recently celebrated her first year as a lab manager at Auburn University in Alabama.

"I've learned so many things being here. I enjoy the people that I work with," Mosher said.

Currently, she is undertaking a project that explores the benefits of weed-like plants (e.g. clover and dandelions) in lawns and their effects on pollinators.

Already planning ahead, she is looking into graduate programs to pursue her master's degree in 2025.

She is also keeping her eyes open to future career opportunities with the USDA.

Mosher aims to further conservation efforts by doing what she loves most: researching and exploring the natural world.