an e-newsletter for students and alumni of saint michael's biology department

Student Spotlight
Q & A with a biology major


Jeff White '08

Durham, CT
Career Interests: College Professor




What has your Saint Michael's experience been like, particularly your experience as a biology major?

Saint Michaelís College has been the perfect fit for me. The professors love what they do, and it shows. Each brings his or her area of expertise to creating classes that are small in size but not lacking in breadth. Through spending two summers on campus working on an independent research project, I have been fortunate enough to get to know many faculty outside of the classroom, which everyone should do! All biology majors get the benefit of very close attention from faculty in both lectures and laboratories. Perhaps the greatest thing about the biology department is that there is abundant room for opportunities for students to get involved in projects where they can work one-on-one with faculty. The faculty are more than just teachers. They are mentors.    

Explain your research project.

I am starting my second consecutive academic year with a research project under the guidance of Professor Facey. I applied for summer grants and was able to work and live on campus for my project both years. My work has involved quantifying diet overlap between two local fishes, the yellow perch and the white perch. The white perch, being invasive in Lake Champlain, is of interest because of the effects it may be having on native species and the food web. My research has been the most worthwhile experience of my college career, as it has convinced me to attend graduate school. This past August, I traveled with Professor Facey to Montreal to present a poster of our 2006 project at the 30th Congress of the International Association of Theoretical and Applied Limnology (SIL), at which nearly 1,500 scientists from around the world attended for talks and presentations dealing with inland aquatic ecosystems. I have submitted my manuscript anticipating its publication in the conference proceedings. Thus, I have had the fortune to see a project through from applying for funding to presenting and hopefully becoming published.

What was it like to attend an international conference and share your research with others in your field?

Attending the SIL conference was awesome in the true sense of the word, because I was amazed by the diversity of topics being presented for what I thought was a very specific discipline (limnology). It was also very exciting to be surrounded by scientists from around the world and listen to them speak about their research. When it was my turn to present, I got to stand alongside my poster and have conversations with delegates as they passed by. It felt very rewarding to talk about my project with others and hear their ideas and interpretations.

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