Hiram College students showed the many ways they spent their summer preparing for careers and graduate school at the annual showcase of hands-on learning.
Nearly 50 students presented at the Celebration of Experiential Learning on Sept. 22, 2015. Topics spanned the disciplines of neuroscience, environmental studies, biomedical humanities, biology, sociology, business, psychology, biochemistry, chemistry, education, physics and entrepreneurship.
Many students worked with Hiram College professors to conduct research, while others completed research or internships at organizations around the country.
Here is a sampling of what was presented:
Courtney Bukach ’16
Management major; accounting and entrepreneurship minor
Internship: Advancement of Gardening, Sustainability and Entrepreneurial Endeavors at the Hiram College Field Station
Courtney Bukach ’16 sought an internship that would fuel her love of animals and being outdoors, while providing valuable business and entrepreneurship experience. She found it at the College’s James H. Barrow Field Station by exploring cost-saving and sustainable food production.
Bukach worked with other interns and Field Station staff to support Butterfly Hill Garden, which provided sustainably grown food for Field Station wildlife. This not only reduced food costs, but also brought in additional profit, thanks to her work in researching and working with local farmers markets, where extra food was sold.
This semester, she’s able to apply the marketing and accounting skills she learned on-the-job to her courses.
“I’m applying what I learned, not just learning from a book,” Bukach said.
And the experience has opened her eyes to the importance of the environment and sustainability in her own life: She hopes to work at a marketing firm with good environmental practices and to grow the food she eats in her own garden.
Sara Amport ’17
Biology major (pre-vet)
Hannah Curtis ’16
Biology and environmental studies major
Research: Understanding Ecological Change: Neophobia, Exploration and Social Learning in the European Starling
Neophobia is the fear of new things, and with the many changes that happen in the environment, Sarah Amport ’17, Hannah Curtis ’16 and Sarah Mabey, associate professor of environmental studies, sought out to discover how and whether wildlife exhibit this fear.
The students reared 17 European Starlings from birth to independence – at first sheltering them – and then introducing them to new objects and studying their reactions. Though the research began over the summer, Amport, Curtis and Dr. Mabey are still working on analyzing the data, and plan to publish and present a paper at a conference this spring.
The project provided valuable experience for both students, even though they plan to take very different career paths.
For Amport, it affirmed her desire to become a veterinarian. She developed presentation and communication skills that will help her communicate with pet owners, while gaining experience raising animals from birth and learning about the implications of disease.
“Before I worked at the Field Station, I was actually afraid of birds, and here I was, raising 17 of them!” Amport said. “I’ve grown in both a personal and professional manner.”
For Curtis, the experience was a window into graduate-level research and something that will set her apart when she begins to apply for graduate school.
“I’ll hopefully be published, and that’s not something many graduate school candidates can say,” Curtis said.
Adam Hamilton ‘16
Biology major, chemistry minor
Research: Testing for Possible Bottle-Neck Genetic Variation Within Endangered White-Winged Wood Duck Population
Adam Hamilton ’16 feels ready for graduate-level research, thanks to the number of undergraduate research opportunities Hiram has provided him.
This summer, he completed his third research experience, as he studied genetic variations in the endangered white-winged wood duck at the James H. Barrow Field Station. Because there are fewer than 1,000 of these ducks left on the planet, most are closely related. Hamilton and his fellow student and faculty researchers are trying to figure out if – and if so, which of – these ducks should mate, in an attempt to save the species.
This project began at the Field Station several years ago, and Hamilton is continuing to build upon it for his senior capstone. Since he has gained so much experience working with already-designed research projects, he feels ready to design his own in graduate school.
“I can anticipate what can go wrong, and I can solve problems quickly,” he said. “Most importantly, I can approach problems from a lot of different perspectives.”
Renee Brumbaugh ‘16
Biomedical humanities major, NEOMED pipeline (pre-med)
Internship: Growth Hormone induced Cell Signaling and Its Effect on Insulin Resistance
Renee Brumbaugh ’16 is among the first cohort of Hiram students accepted into the B.A. to M.D. partnership with Northeast Ohio Medical University in Rootstown. She was admitted into NEOMED’s College of Medicine as a Hiram sophomore, and will advance into the program next year, pending grades and test scores.
This summer, she gained valuable research experience through the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, which will help her as she completes her undergraduate studies and takes the MCAT. With Shigeru Okada, Ph.D., of the Diabetes Institute at Ohio University, she conducted research that will help doctors better understand diabetes.
Brumbaugh said her experience working with blood samples and interpreting data will help her succeed in medical school and as a physician.
“This is what you need to be a doctor,” she said. “It’s not just knowing the building blocks, but putting the building blocks together.”
Zach Nemec ‘16
Internship: Evaluating How the Complexity of Coral Reef Habitat Influences Fish Density Around Palmyra Atoll
For the second year in row Zach Nemec ’16 completed summer research funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. This year, he studied fish density around the island of Palmyra Atoll, through the University of California, San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
Next year, he plans to attend graduate school to study wildlife or natural resources. From his off-campus summer experiences, and his on-campus experiences with Hiram faculty, Nemec has a lot of research experience under his belt. This particular project provided him the opportunity to work with more advanced technology and analytics, and he feels ready for what’s next.
“Researching lets you see things in practice instead of theory,” he said. “Hiram’s foundation allowed me to excel in situations I don’t know a lot about. I had never worked with saltwater before, but my Hiram education made me confident.”