Morgan Mellum ’23 Builds 3D Insect Model for Fulbright Canada Fellowship Posted on August 19th, 2021 by

This Summer, Morgan Mellum ’23 created a detailed three dimensional online model of an insect that was preserved in amber. Mellum is working virtually alongside professors from a Canadian University. This research connection was discovered through Gustavus promotion of Fulbright opportunities.


Mellum is a triple major in Geology, Environmental Studies, and French. Each of her majors are inspired by her passions and life experiences. “I came in knowing I wanted to major in Environmental Science and then I took GEO 120 and really fell in love with the Geology aspect of it,” said Mellum.


The insect Mellum modeled is estimated to be over 100 million years old. Mellum goes into detail about this discovery stating, “Based on the pictures and the specimen being seen under a microscope, it was suspected that it is a new species. So we wanted to create the 3D model to confirm that this was a new species and see details that you aren’t able to see under the microscope.” 


Currently, Mellum is adding the finishing touches to her model to be printed for publication. Mellum shared her research at the Gustavus Summer Research Presentations and is looking forward to future opportunities. 


Due to the current pandemic, Mellum was not able to travel to Canada for her research experience. Despite this setback, Mellum remains optimistic and values the online skills she acquired during this unique research experience. “I really enjoyed the computer modeling. While it was tedious at times, it was really fun to see all of your hard work appear in the 3D model.”  


Mellum comments on the impact of this research saying, “I think this could have a fairly big impact on the specific superfamily of wasps… There’s not a lot known about these wasps at the approximate age that this wasp was found.”


As an experienced student researcher, Mellum offers advice to future students saying, “Make connections with your professors at Gustavus and ask them about their research. It can be scary to talk to professors, but I have never met a professor that does not want to talk to you about their research.” 


Mellum’s research is funded by Mitacs and Fulbright Canada


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