Sunday, November 7, 2010

Biology Major Benefits From Summer Research Internship

While 13 science majors stayed on campus this summer to experience full-time research, many AU students take advantage of off-campus internships. Katie Huff (AU'11) is a Biology major (and a member of AU's chapter of Beta Beta Beta, the biology honorary) who spent the summer at OSU’s Stone Laboratory on Gibraltar Island near Put-In-Bay, Lake Erie, Ohio. Katie was an REU student at Stone Lab (NSF’s Research Experience for Undergraduates), so she took a class (Introduction to Ecology) and did research with a faculty advisor, Dr. Thomas P. Simon. “I learned about this opportunity through the Science News Blog...(along with) several other opportunities... I was lucky enough to have a great professor, Dr. Mason Posner, who advised me to try to find an internship...Through conducting more research on the possible places I could apply, I found that Stone Laboratory sounded like it would fit me the best.”

Katie’s research project was about “about the distribution of crayfish around the Bass Islands of Lake Erie. We sampled many different sites around North Bass, Middle Bass, South Bass, Gibraltar, and several of the smaller Bass Islands, as well as some of the mainland rivers to determine which species of crayfish were where. The last distribution studies in the area were done in the 1960s and have not been updated since...My advisor is a former EPA employee and has over 100 published research papers, not only about crayfish but about fish as well...We wanted to look at whether any distributions have changed or if they had remained the same...I learned the importance of taking detailed information about each of the sites,...time management and patience (during field work),... of planning ahead before going to different sites... (for example) we had to take a boat to each of the islands so times had to be arranged for the drivers to take us to certain places. Communication was key throughout the whole research project.”

Katie lists a few more benefits of her summer research experience. “This experience not only helped me to learn valuable research techniques, it helped me with my public speaking as well. Each week we met with a group of people, including a new guest speaker and the director of Stone Lab. During these meetings we would have to give a brief synopsis of the research that we were participating in. At the end of our time at Stone Lab, we also had to present our findings in a 15 minute presentation to all of the students, faculty, and staff of the lab... presenting something that I was very knowledgeable about helped me to become a little more at ease in front of my peers. I will also be writing a research paper to go along with my findings and will be trying to get it published...”

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