Cheyenne Graham

Cheyenne Graham

University of Michigan

Ph.D. Student


I am a first year Ph.D. student in Dr. Kelly Speer’s lab at the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Michigan. For my research I plan to study the relationship between hybridization and the immune system of bats, alongside investigating its interaction with endoparasite infection. This is my very first time working with bats as my study system, but I am very excited to be a part of the bat research community and to be a student representative for GBatNet! 

My passion for research, and science in general, began when my mother would consistently watch nature documentaries with me when I was younger. However, my interest for science truly grew in high school, where I took my very first ecology class, and this opened my eyes to how much can be explored in this field. I recently obtained my Master’s in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in which I studied the evolutionary relationship between howler monkeys and the pinworms that infect them. My first field research experience was in Costa Rica where I assisted in collecting behavioral data from capuchin monkeys and fecal samples and endoparasites from howler monkeys. It was such an amazing experience that it has fueled my excitement to conduct even more field work. 

A goal of mine during my Master’s and in my Ph.D. was to participate in as many outreach opportunities as possible and to develop a new activity. As a black woman in ecology and evolutionary biology, I don’t see many like myself in this field and this is something that almost held me back from pursuing a career in science. I hope to engage with the future generations of students of color or any student that does not see themselves in this field to let them know that science is for them and that they too can be a researcher. 

I am currently a part of an outreach program I co-created with graduate students in my department called “ISMEEB” (I see me in ecology and evolutionary biology) which will officially launch this upcoming fall semester where we will be implementing a science escape room at the university to allow underrepresented high school students to explore the role of a researcher. 

In my free time I love to watch anime, write poetry, and explore new coffee shops around Michigan. I also love to hang out with my cat Matcha and take her in her cat backpack to explore the loveliness of nature. “Big things have small beginnings” — A quote from the movie Prometheus that I only saw the trailer for haha! It motivated me when applying for graduate school and I included it in my application. To this day I think about it, maybe not in the way the movie promoted it, but at times when imposter syndrome is winning I have to remember that it takes time to learn things and become great at them and it doesn’t mean I am any less than other researchers. I am starting off small and have great rewards awaiting me. Becoming a GBatNet student was only just the beginning 🙂