Grad student Erin Baerwald seeks crowdfunding to finish bat research thesis

University of Calgary PhD student Erin Baerwald is asking for donations on a web site to fund her research into the migratory behaviour of bats.

Traditional funding sources drying up, say students

Doctoral student Erin Baerwald hopes to raise $15,000 on a website to fund her research on bat migration. (Tim Devlin/CBC)

A student at the University of Calgary has turned to crowdfunding to be able to finish her PhD. 

Erin Baerwald's doctoral research involves gathering genetic information to determine the migratory routes of bats. The goal is to help reduce the number of bats killed during migration as a result of collisions with wind turbines.  

Erin Baerwald is researching the migratory routes of bats to help reduce the number of collisions with wind turbines. (Tim Devlin/CBC)

"We think closer to two million bats have been killed in the last 10 years," she said.

Baerwald says her research has been well-supported by the university and her supervisor. However, she says genetic research is expensive and unexpected costs have outstripped her existing funding.

"There's limited funds for basic research and things that aren't going to make money, things that aren't research and development (with an) industrial focus. It is a big problem," she said. 

Baerwald and her supporters have launched a campaign on the web site Indiegogo. The goal is to raise $15,000.

"I've had some donations from Germany and Slovakia and from across the U.K.," she said.

"A lot of the bat community is getting behind me as well; they're re-tweeting and sharing on Facebook and donating," she added. 

So far, Baerwald's campaign has raised just over $3,000. She says she hopes to be able to complete her research by the summer.

Hanna Kadri with the the University of Calgary student union calls the amount of research funding available to students inadequate.

"There's not much that can be done to increase the amount of research dollars to students, "she said. "I think it it is a travesty."