Learning hands-on offers students unparalleled opportunities to explore their interests and take their first steps in the “real world.”
On Sept. 26, Hiram College students had the chance to showcase what they learned from recent internships, research partnerships and more, at the annual Celebration of Research. Though their experiences varied from exploring nature to writing at a daily newspaper, many agreed that it was an ideal way to enhance their classroom studies and that they felt more prepared for whatever comes next, be it graduate school or a job.
Some students, like Sara Piccolomini ’14 and Zachary Nemec ’16, presented research they conducted right in the Hiram community. Their project, “Baseline data collection of abiotic parameters and invertebrate and fish communities prior to restoration efforts of Eagle Creek,” explored the James H. Barrow Field Station’s recently acquired Eagle Creek restoration site.
Piccolomini and Nemec researched invertebrate and fish communities in a channel that was diverted in late summer. Their research explored the populations prior to the channel’s diversion, and next summer, student researchers will study the effects of the diversion.
Piccolomini, who is starting to think about graduate school, said she feels better prepared, after being exposed to so many different research techniques.
“It wasn’t one specific tactic,” she said. “I got a variety of different skill sets that will help in graduate school.”
Amberly Neice ’14, who presented a research project she conducted over the summer at the University of Arizona and Biosphere 2, had a similar experience.
She researched “Photosynthesis as and Indicator of Isoprene Emission Rate in Hybrid Poplars,” a topic she formulated from the ground up – from coming up with the idea to gathering data and analyzing results.
“It taught me how to make my own project and go through with it,” she said, adding that she may go back to continue her research next summer.
Ryan Kramarz ’15 presented an account of his internship at Shaker LaunchHouse, a kick-start program for budding entrepreneurs like himself. He worked primarily with two start-ups: Good Greens and TenantMagic, doing accounting and software development.
Kramarz hopes to own his own business some day, much like the clients he worked with. He said his internship with LaunchHouse opened many doors, and he was surprised at how much of a difference he was able to make.
“It completely changed my entrepreneurship mindset,” he said. “I didn’t know how helpful I could be with them.”
Ronda Riggins ’14, too, said she was happy her research allowed her to make a difference. With Elizabeth Piatt, assistant professor of sociology, and alumna Natasha Elder ’13, she researched “The barriers to community walking in a low-income neighborhood.”
The research was part of a community health initiative to reduce the occurrence of diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease by promoting the value of walking 30 minutes per day. Riggins helped research the barriers to doing this in an Akron community. She found that the large number of abandoned houses in the area was a deterrent for many in the community, and several of these houses are now slated for demolition.
“This was the first research project I’ve done with faculty,” she said, “but it definitely will not be the last.”
For Jessica Gezymalla ’14, her summer research exploring “Asexual Reproduction Favored in Sea Nettles,” was just the start of many opportunities soon to come her way. Her research was funded by the National Science Foundation’s Research Experience for Undergraduates program, at Rutgers University. At the end of her summer stay, she was awarded a chance to present at the February 2014 Ocean Sciences Meeting in Honolulu.
She continues to be involved in research related to the project.
This year’s event was the fifth annual Celebration of Research. Information about internship and research opportunities is available through the Career Center, the Centers of Distinction and individual professors.