Heather Allamon learned the hard way that scientific research is all about making mistakes. The junior biology major from Crestline is studying the effects of light intensity and water clarity on the foraging rates of larval fish through the Science, Engineering and Technology Gateway Ohio (SETGO) program.
“When I first started the lights were too hot,” Allamon said. “They warmed up the water and killed all the fish. When you’re doing your own research project sometimes you have to think on your feet and redesign what you’re doing.”
Allamon is one of 40 students on campus this summer engaged in independent research through SETGO. Students receive a $3,500 scholarship and will spend a total of 10 weeks working on their projects while being mentored by faculty.
Tim Speegle, an environmental science major at Owens Community College who is transferring to BGSU in the fall, is learning all about the challenges that come with going out into the field and putting a project idea into action. He is studying drinking water reservoirs and whether or not they can support use as a fishery for Yellow Perch.
“Research doesn’t always fit your schedule,” he explained. “I have had to reschedule sample gathering trips several times—but this project has opened my eyes as to what all is involved in actually supporting life and what aspects of nature influence that. I see myself continuing in environmental science and research and one day working in environmental restoration.”
Tia Collier, a biochemistry junior from Toledo, is hoping she can apply the skills learned this summer to her future career as a forensic physician assistant. Collier is using DNA markers to determine whether orchids discovered this spring are lady’s slipper orchids—a variety believed to have been wiped out from one of only two remaining sites in Ohio.
“I’ve enjoyed the SETGO experience so much,” Collier said. “You learn so much in such a short amount of time.”
Students say collaborating with graduate students and faculty on issues and ideas is one of the most rewarding parts of the process. Erin Tucker, a biology senior from Avon, is working with Jessica Sewald, a graduate student. The pair is investigating the foraging activities of bats in the Oak Openings Region using echolocation monitors and mist netting. Tucker is specifically looking at whether bats are more active in areas with lots of roost tree availability.
“I’ve learned a lot this summer about research in general and field work,” said Tucker. “We have a lot of fun when we’re out there. The SETGO experience has been really positive and I’ve gained a lot more confidence.”
Funded by the National Science Foundation, SETGO is designed to increase the number of science, math, engineering and technology graduates in the region.
The students will show the results of their work in a poster session from 2-4 p.m. Friday (July 23) in 308 Bowen-Thompson Student Union. The event is open to the campus community.