Huntir Bass blended her love for math and giraffes to develop a research project that aims to help protect these endangered creatures. Adobe Stock image.

Helping Save Endangered Giraffes from Extinction with the Power of Math

By: Zenaida Gonzalez Kotala on

UCF graduate student Huntir Bass, who is pursuing a master’s degree in math, knows the power of math to solve problems. And she’ll be presenting about the project at UCF’s annual Student Scholar Symposium, the cornerstone of Student Research Week.

“Since I was little, I have always gravitated towards math,” says the Mobile, Alabama, native. “I love how math can be used to discover and get a deeper understanding about the world around us. I learned mathematical modeling could be used in fields like mathematical biology, epidemiology and others. Giraffes are my favorite animal, so I know a lot about them. Combining my love of math, problem solving and giraffes, is how this research project developed.”

Huntir Bass

The project, “Giraffe Population Behaviors: A Mathematical Modeling Introduction to Gain Understanding of Giraffes to Save Them from Extinction,” looks to accurately depict population behaviors of giraffes to predict their population adaptions to different scenarios. Through various mathematical modeling techniques, Bass is looking for the parameters for coexistence and extinction between juvenile and adult giraffe groups. Once the relationship between these two is understood, outside factors that could benefit or impede population growth like environmental conditions, predators and poaching are calculated. The goal is to find the best scenario for a giraffe herd to thrive.

Some of the best research comes from individuals who are passionate about a topic and want to make an impact. The giraffe population has been rapidly declining over the last four decades and Bass wanted to be part of turning that trend around.

“If I can mathematically model their populations behaviors and get my research in the right hands, I could possibly help increase the population growth,” she says. “I also believe it could help other endangered species that have the same or similar population behaviors. This research matters to me because giraffes are my favorite animal, and it would break my heart to live in a world without them. I want to avoid the tragedy that the northern white rhino population has approached due to poaching, with only two females left in the world.”

Research without impact doesn’t mean much. UCF’s track record of making a difference is what drew Bass to UCF.

“I picked UCF because of the reputation the university has and difference it has made and continues to make in the world,” she says. “The backbone of the institution is research. Whether it be in space, medicine, technology or other, UCF is a well renowned place to receive any level of education. I am blessed to be a part of the university and will continue to be proud when I am an alumnus, hopefully in Summer 2022.”

After graduation, Bass hopes to teach and help kids overcome their fear of math. But you never know. She says she’s open to a career in research, especially if it helps conserve giraffes or other species in the world.

Research Week runs from March 28-April 1. For more information visit researchweek.ucf.edu

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