Monday, October 10, 2016

Ashland Biology Major Spends Summer as a Dolphin Care Intern

Senior Biology major Cortney Kourie had the unique opportunity to spend this past summer in Key
Largo, Florida taking care of and training Atlantic bottlenose dolphins.  Cortney's experience as a researcher at Ashland University with faculty mentor Dr. Dolly Crawford helped her secure this opportunity, along with her strong application materials.  We will let her describe her amazing summer:
This summer, I had the amazing opportunity to be an animal care and training intern at Dolphins Plus Oceanside in Key Largo, Florida. As an intern, my responsibilities were to assist in animal husbandry of the 14 Atlantic bottlenose dolphins at my facility as well as 2 California sea lions for a couple of days at Dolphins Plus Bayside, Oceanside’s sister facility. In my day-to-day routine, I was in charge of preparing hydrations, nebulizer treatments, vitamins, and husbandry coolers. In addition to preparing all of these husbandry items, I also was in charge of knowing when they needed to occur during different sessions and making sure everything was ready and on the docks. I also assisted in the 3-5 sessions per day on the docks with the animals, which consisted of both swim sessions with the public and husbandry sessions. Additionally, there was a lot of scrubbing of buckets, fridges, and any other item we used in our daily care routine as there is in any animal care position. As for my interest in research, I was also able to assist in data collection by recording respiration rates and blowhole durations daily. My favorite part of the internship, however, was the privilege of finally getting to be a b-point, a secondary trainer who keeps an uncooperative dolphin occupied so that another trainer can finish a husbandry or swim session with a different dolphin. The internship was a lot of work, but it was also a lot of fun. I was surrounded by amazing people including the trainers and the other interns, some of whom I lived with. This internship has taught me better time management and organization, and I have grown a greater respect for and understanding of the animal care field. I have definitely decided on my career path, and I hope to work with dolphins and many other animals in my future.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Ashland Biology major interns with physicians in Florida

Junior Biology major Justin Dowell plans to attend medical school after graduation from Ashland
University to become a surgeon.  He spent this summer in Jupiter, Florida taking part in an internship at the Jupiter Medical Center that allowed him to shadow a number of doctors.  Justin writes about his experience below.  In addition to being an active member of our American Student Medical Association, Justin is supported by Ashland's state-funded Choose Ohio First Scholarship program.

I had the opportunity to shadow multiple physicians at the Jupiter Medical Center in Jupiter, Florida, this summer. For this internship, I had to contact doctors from a given list of different specialties I found interesting. I shadowed a neurologist, pulmonologist, plastic surgeon, orthopedic surgeon, and multiple invasive radiologists as well as an infectious disease specialist. For the neurologist, pulmonologist, and infectious disease doctor, I was primarily in the office seeing patients. Although, I did observe a few bronchoscopies while I was shadowing the pulmonologist. I initially thought a radiologist only read X-rays, but I was proven wrong. I had the chance to watch two spinal surgeries performed by radiologists. These were noninvasive but none the less surgeries. As for the orthopedic surgeon, I observed a couple rotator cuff surgeries. Again, these were not very invasive. I did, however, see an elbow repair where the elbow was fully exposed. Lastly, the plastic surgeon performed multiple breast surgeries, a tummy tuck, and a few smaller surgeries. These were the more invasive surgeries of the summer. I found each of the specialties interesting and informative, but I also found out that I won’t be happy unless I’m in the operating room.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Ashland professor and alumni take part in outdoor education workshop

Professor Tawse in the field with
workshop participants
Project WILD is a national environmental education organization that trains educators and teaches the public about wildlife and the environment.  AU Biology alumna Amanda Kriner recently facilitated a Project WILD workshop on insects with Jamey Emmert from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.  Amanda is a graduate of our Environmental Science Program and the volunteer coordinator for the Richland County Park District, which manages the Gorman Nature Center in Mansfield, Ohio.

Biology professor Merrill Tawse, who teaches the Entomology course at Ashland University, led the training at the workshop.  Attendees included another Environmental Science alumna, Karie Wheaton (Charlton) '11, who works as a Naturalist for the Geauga County Park District.
AU Environmental Science graduates
Amanda Kriner and Karie Wheaton

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Ashland Biology faculty and students conduct summer research

Ashland University’s Dr. Mason Posner, professor and chairperson of the Department of Biology and
Toxicology, recently received a $305,000 research grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to continue his research program using the small zebrafish to investigate the causes and prevention of lens cataract.  According to Posner, this three-year research grant from the NIH's Academic Research Enhancement Program is intended to expose students to research, strengthen the University's research environment and support meritorious research.

Two students have been working in Dr. Posner's lab this summer.  Rising senior and Choose Ohio First Scholar Kelly Murray says that "the opportunity to participate in lab has been a valuable experience, providing me with practical laboratory skills and a better understanding of the scientific process. The work has has helped me to develop my skills as an aspiring scientist and has informed my decision to apply for graduate programs this fall."  The photo below shows Kelly examining zebrafish embryos using the Department's inverted fluorescent microscope.

Rising Senior Hayden Eighinger plans to attend medical school and says "I have applied learned concepts from basic biology classes to higher level genetics courses, doing much to unite my understanding of concepts gained in different classes. This experience is important because it has reinforced my understanding of biological concepts crucial to success not only as an aspiring doctor, but also as a student of biology".

The other big change in lab this summer was the installation of a new zebrafish aquarium system, funded by the new research grant.  Dr. Posner and his students will be filling the system with genetically modified zebrafish in the months to come.

The grant is a renewal of work that Posner has conducted with NIH funding since 2001 that uses the zebrafish as a model organism to understand how proteins, called alpha crystallins, help maintain the transparency of the lens of the eye. You can read more about this research on Dr. Posner's website.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Ashland microbiology professor teaches this summer in Taiwan

Paul Hyman, Associate Professor of Biology, is spending five weeks this summer teaching in Taiwan as part of the ONPS Summer School, an independent Chinese education program. ONPS provides Chinese students studying at American universities during Fall and Spring with summer school classes while they are home. He is teaching an Introductory Biology course (in English) in Taipei, Taiwan to students from schools ranging from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to the University of San Francisco. There is a student from the Ohio State University and even one high school student from Taipei.

His adventures began even before arriving as a class five typhoon caused his first flight to be cancelled and the rescheduled flight diverted to Okinawa, Japan for a day. But since arriving in Taipei he has completed his first week teaching and exploring the city. He writes “Taipei is a fascinating mix of familiar city sights and a totally different approach to life. Because food is plentiful and inexpensive, many people prefer to eat out for most or all meals. Supporting this are a vast number of small restaurants, food stalls and night markets – streets blocked off each day to set up food and store booths that are then taken down at the end of the day. One of the teaching assistants tells me that some apartments do not even have kitchens.“

“People are friendly and very forgiving of someone who can barely manage a poorly pronounced “hello” and “thank you” in Chinese. Some people speak English, at least a few more words than I speak Chinese. We manage to get by pointing to pictures, gestures and smiles. And numbers are universal. The streets are as full of scooters as of cars. Perhaps because of the many scooters, I haven’t seen many bicycles although there are usually a couple each day. Besides the many food shops are small hardware stores, mini-marts, beauty salons, mechanics (especially for the scooters), all along the same street in no particular order. Many of them appear to be family businesses. “

Dr. Hyman will be teaching through the second week of August and then it is back to Ohio with just a few weeks before classes start at AU. Just enough time to readjust to a 12 hour time change.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Ashland Biology in Costa Rica

Boat trip for snorkeling on the Pacific coast
Ashland University has hosted a foreign languages summer program in Costa Rica for many years.  But this summer was the first time that we have offered a natural science course as part of the AU in Costa Rica program.

Students in Biology Professor Merrill Tawse's BIO 202: Organisms, Adaptation, and Diversity course spent this summer at the biologically rich campus setting of Conversa Language Center, a Spanish language school situated in a lush mountain setting overlooking the Santa Ana Valley.  Students did weekend field work in the tropical cloud forest of Monteverde and the marine park in Manuel Antonio while learning Spanish.  For additional cultural experiences, students live with families and participate in excursions.

Professor Tawse reports that
This is the first time that the Ashland University Biology/Toxicology Department has led
Hiking in the rain forest with Professor Tawse
students into this part of the world where they were surrounded by some of Earth's most biologically diverse ecosystems. Students were in awe as they observed first-hand the richness of plant and animal species surrounding them as they were snorkeling in coral reefs, hiking through mountain cloud forests, and when comparing upland and lowland tropical forests of Costa Rica. Student lab experiences included measuring and comparing the biological diversity in select habitats, night hikes, mist netting of birds and bats, encountering lizards and snakes along the park and preserve trails and visiting a local animal refuge center. For many, being able to watch a sea turtle foraging in a coastal reef, discovering Howler and White-faced Monkeys moving through the canopy above them, and observing sloths sleeping in the trees will become some of the lifetime memories of their Ashland University experience.
Here are some more pictures from this summer's trip:

Snorkeling with sea turtles
Setting up a mist net to collect birds
A rufous capped warbler

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Ashland Biology lab sends student researchers to zoology internships across the country

Students Cortney Kourie (left) and
Samantha Carson (right) with faculty
research mentor Dr. Dolly Crawford
Four undergraduate research students working this past year with Dr. Dolly Crawford on laboratory and field research projects are off on a number of exciting summer internships.  We already reported on this blog about Ethan Patterson's internship at the Alaska Sealife Center.  Another student, Cortney Kourie, is currently in Key Largo, Florida working as an intern at Dolphins Plus, a marine mammal conservation and public education institute.  Samantha Carson is involved in public education and animal care at the Greater Cleveland Aquarium, and recent graduate Bethany Linert is interning at the Gorman Nature Center in Mansfield Ohio, where another AU science graduate, Amanda Kriner, works as the Director of Volunteer Resources.

We plan to follow up with some pictures and descriptions from these students about their experiences later this summer.