Undergraduate Research: Environmental Toxicology
Major(s): Senior in Zoology/Biological Aspects of Conservation
Research area: Effects of environmental pollutants on amphibians
"My research looks at the effects of herbicides and pesticides on the development of frogs. Humans have put a lot of chemicals into the environment and I would like to know: are they harmful to the earth and to ourselves? We are studying amphibians because they are currently declining. They are one of the first groups of animals to be affected by pollutants in water probably because they live in water and their skin is very permeable. Whatever is in the water is in them."
Why did you choose to pursue a research project?
I wanted to get more connection to the Zoology department. I wanted to challenge myself; to show myself that if I put my mind to research, I could go through with it. Also, doing research gets me a step ahead of other students who want to get into graduate school but have never done research.
Would you recommend the research experience to other undergraduates?
Definitely. I think it's important to get some hands-on experience in your field of study. You have to be a hard worker and be open to directions and advice from people in your lab. But you also need to be ready to do a lot of things by yourself. Start research as early as you can. The more experience you have, the more opportunities you have to discover something very fascinating!
Has doing research had an impact on you academically or on your career goals?
I wasn't planning to take organic chemistry because it isn't required for my major but I later decided to take it. Working in this area of biology made me realize that I'm interested in environmental toxicology and needed the background in organic chemistry. It's always been my plan to go to graduate school and research gave me a chance to see what it's like to be a graduate student. I learned what's in store for me.