Like a lot of students, Emily Beam knew that she wanted to major in biology even before coming to the College. Working in wildlife biology has been her passion since before high school. Now, she’s gaining a solid academic background and unique study abroad experiences that will help her turn that dream into reality.
“I knew that I wanted to get research experience,” Emily explains. “And I had heard that undergraduate research was strongly emphasized in a lot of the departments here. It didn’t take long, and by my sophomore year, I was working with a herpetologist, studying how changes in salinity impact young and adult toads.”
In the future, Emily really wants to conduct research with large mammals. She took a big step toward that by spending a semester studying abroad in East Africa. “I was in Kenya and Tanzania doing research on elephants. It was amazing because I was in the field every day assessing their body condition. We were working with wild African elephants in pretty close proximity.”
Emily is now using that experience as the basis for her bachelor’s essay, and she’s complementing that project by taking a capstone course on molecular biology.
“This course is incredibly engaging. There are just six students in the class, and we’re in the field nearly every day, looking at vertebrate and invertebrate DNA, and then sequencing it. It’s something like being a postdoctoral student at a big research institution. What’s cool is that our work will eventually become part of the genetic databank. In general, that archive is pretty patchy for most species, so our work could be helpful for researchers in the future.”
Along with her classes and research, Emily stays busy giving campus tours and volunteering at a pet outreach clinic. After graduating, she plans to take a year off before continuing her studies at the graduate level. She knows she’ll be well prepared – and well supported – by the experiences she’s had in the biology department.
Our department excels at promoting undergraduate research and has an excellent reputation for mentoring students. About 75 students participate in undergraduate research each year, and many are supported by faculty research grants or by college or departmental funds.
Students present their research at local, state and national meetings and many are co-authors with faculty on publications.
❱❱ graduates have an excellent record of acceptance into allied health professions and medical schools.
❱❱ faculty research ranges from the developmental biology of muscle cells to coral reef ecology, plant population genetics, paleontology and much more.