What has your
Saint Michael's experience been like, in particular your experience
as a biology major?
Saint Michael's has been the perfect place for me to pursue an
education. The combination of an Edmundite tradition and diversity
of programs cemented my decision to attend and has influenced my
happiness since. As a double major in history and biology I have
always had the support of my professors who demonstrate that
anything's possible with hard work.
Within the Biology department, I've been able to both focus in on
the environmental biology track while still being exposed to other
avenues within biology. Having a minor in environmental studies has
added depth to my experience. Everything we study here is
interrelated, which is a microcosm for the liberal arts environment
of the college overall. I am energized by making links between
disciplines and ideas.
Explain your research project.
This past summer was exciting, rewarding, and fun. I received a
grant funded by the National Science Foundation from the Vermont
Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) to
work with Professor McCabe and five other Saint Michael's students
on the Streams Project. We
took samples of macroinvertebrates from Vermont streams in the Lake
Champlain watershed and identified the organisms using taxonomic
keys. We mastered valuable skills. Our results will serve as an
indication of the streams' health because invertebrate groups can
only live in certain conditions; dissolved oxygen, pollution levels,
suspended sediment, and particles in the water all contribute to the
livability of the stream. The sites vary due to land use
classifications of agricultural, urban, or forested. Each member of
the team will produce an original research project from our work, to
be presented in April 2009. We are eager to contribute to expanding
the involvement in undergraduate research at Saint Michaelís.
I know that the skills I learned on this project will influence my
future work; attention to detail and determination play a huge role
in the keying process. Simply having experience of identifying
macroinvertebrates is marketable. It can definitely be an
intimidating or frustrating task, especially for someone just
starting out. The really unique element of this internship was that
we taught students and teachers from 12 area schools the techniques
that the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation uses in
their Biomonitoring efforts. We've also built a website from photos
of the macroinvertebrates we collected to be used as a teaching
What are you planning to do after you graduate?
There are many ways to combine my passions of history and biology in
an enthusiastic and informed environment to participate in a larger
social context. Working with high school students and teachers on
the Streams Project gave me hands-on experience with non-traditional
teaching opportunities similar to those I would like to have in my
career. The Streams Project internship was vital in narrowing the
field of study to pursue on the graduate level that would fit my
experience and interest.