Science StageGAMBIER, Ohio (February 1, 2007) From calorie consumption in caterpillars to the sexual secrets of seabirds, research by Kenyon biology students has been winning attention at scientific conferences across the nation. This year alone, eleven students will present their work at poster sessions at five national biological meetings. Although college students frequently present their work at conferences designed to highlight undergraduate research, Kenyon's top science students often present their work at national professional meetings, right alongside graduate students and established scientists.
"It's definitely unusual to see undergraduates at the Society of Toxicology meeting," says associate professor Wade Powell, who has three students presenting posters at the national meeting in March. "When scientists at the meeting talk to our students and see their research, they are always impressed with the work they are doing as undergraduates. It gives our students a lot of exposure and has helped open doors to top graduate research and medical programs."
How do they operate at such an advanced level? Associate professor Siobhan Fennessy credits Kenyon's Summer Science Scholars program with much of the success. "It gives students a chance to run their own research project and to work closely with the science faculty and fellow students. The program is really a model of how professional scientists work," Fennessy explains. Scholars receive $3,000 fellowships for the summer, create a research plan, execute the project, and prepare results for publication and presentation in a public poster session, the standard method for sharing research findings in the scientific world. Nearly all of the students participating in this year's national meetings have been summer science scholars."I really feel that the summer science program is one of the greatest strengths of the science departments at Kenyon," says Adam Booth, a 2003 graduate. Once a summer science scholar who presented his work at the American Society of Plant Biologists meeting in Hawaii, Booth is now pursuing a PhD in immunology at the University of Michigan. According to Booth, "There simply is no substitute for the experience of working full-time on a project that you've designed yourself."
This year, Kenyon is represented on the national scientific stage by the following students, whose travel is funded primarily through the Jackson G. Flowers Fund.
Ecological Society of America, Memphis, TN, August 2006
Sascha Lodge, Class of 2007, major: biology
Talk: Range expansion and community impact of the invasive herbivores Adelges tsugae and Fiorinia externa in New England.
About the experience: "It was really interesting to be able to attend so many talks at the meeting on quite a variety of topics -- from comparing physiological differences in oaks to the use of camouflage by crabs in different habitats. While presenting as an undergraduate was quite a daunting task, it was also very satisfying to step down from the podium after answering questions on my talk."
After Kenyon "I am applying for field internships and jobs involving data collection and land restoration projects. Within two years I plan to attend graduate school in ecology/natural resources/sustainable development."
Society for Integrative Biology Annual Meeting, Phoenix, AZ, January 2007
Andy Boylan, Class of 2007, major: English
Poster: Detailed analyses of metabolic rates during
larval development in Manduca sexta.
About the experience: "SICB was my first professional research conference. I found that my Kenyon science courses laid an excellent foundation for engaging research outside my experience, and I spent the majority of the four days in amazement at the opportunities for scientific exploration available to students after four years at Kenyon. "
After Kenyon: medical school
Lina Moe, Class of 2007, major: biology and English
Poster: Fair Weather Food: The effect of weather variation on total plasma antioxidant levels of Leach's storm-petrels.
Emily Vaughn, Class of 2007, major: biology and Spanish
Poster: The Parent Trap: Breeding black guillemots (Cepphus grylle) in better body condition have higher levels of lipid peroxidation.
After Kenyon: " I'm applying for a few internships to do field work and for a few to intern at general audience scientific magazines. The plan after that is to apply to grad school in biology, and at this point I'm leaning towards programs in physiological ecology and environmental toxicology."
Jenni Zangmeister Class of 2007, major: biology
Poster: "Feather Time" in Leach's storm-petrel (Oceanodroma leucorhoa): feather growth rates reflect trade-offs during incubation.
About the experience: "I wasn't sure what to expect from SICB and was a little intimidated by the thought of presenting to a bunch of graduate students and scientists who had way more experience than I did. Once I started talking to people about my poster, though, it was great to have such accomplished researchers complimenting me on my work and asking me questions that I actually had the answers to. It helped build my confidence in my own research abilities, and the whole experience turned out to be a lot of fun, as well. It is also a great way for undergraduates to network with people for graduate school and find out about labs that may be working on projects that interest them."
After Kenyon: veterinary school
Society of Toxicology, Charlotte, NC, March 2007
Anna Zimmermann and Lisa King Class of 2007, major: biology
Poster: Characterization of an Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor Repressor from the frog Xenopus laevis.
After Kenyon: Zimmerman: "I am planning to return to China next fall to work on an environmental project or to teach English. I plan to attend graduate school starting in 2009, probably in interdisciplinary environmental science, although I have not decided on the specific field yet." King: University of Chicago Medical School
Diana Spahlinger and Lisa King, Class of 2007, major: molecular biolgy
Poster: Stage-Specific Effects of TCDD on Gene Expression Patterns During Development of the Frog Xenopus laevis.
After Kenyon: University of Michigan Medical School
American Society for Microbiology, Toronto, Canada, May 2007
Piero Sanfilippo, Class of 2009, major: molecular biology
Poster: Hydrogenases and pH stress response in E. coli
Society of Wetland Scientists, Sacramento, CA, June 2007
Ellen Herbert and Jesse Rosenbluth, Class of 2007, major: biology
Poster: Establishment of Microbialy-Mediated Functions in Created Wetlands: A Comparative and Mechanistic Study to Provide Guidance for Wetland Restoration.
After Kenyon: Herbert: "INext year hope to find a job at an environmental consulting firm that specializes in wetland mitigation and/or water resources. I am also looking into several positions as a research assistant to researchers working on modeling the biogeochemical cycling of nutrients in ecosystems and the response of ecosystems to global climate change. I hope to go to graduate school after 1-2 years of work."