(Written by Justin Rheubert, Instructor of Biology at the University of Findlay)
Although summer is often viewed as a time to kick back, relax, and recuperate from the hard work of the school year, professors within the Biology Department at the University of Findlay fully utilize this time outside of the classroom to work on their professional development. These summer research projects often directly include undergraduate students or aid in the development of experiential learning within the program.
Most of their research is done off campus and allows faculty and students to travel to field sites and conduct field research, collect data, and develop new projects. Ecologist Ben Dolan, Ph.D., worked on a long-term project involving the monitoring of plots at three nature preserves: the Rieck Center for Habitat Studies and the Olive Street Nature Preserve, both owned by the University of Findlay, and Bohannon Nature Preserve, which is owned by Ohio Wesleyan University. Professor Justin Rheubert, herpetologist, also performed field research collecting amphibians and reptiles for various research projects at the Rieck Center for Habitat Studies and in Cincinnati.
As part of an active research program the University of Findlay’s Biology Department is continuously developing new projects and working on new collaborations with scientists around the world. Microbiologist Bethany Henderson-Dean, Ph.D., developed a working collaboration with Michael Meyer, a Ph.D. student from Washington State, to assess microbial communities in shore soil samples from Lake Baikal, Siberia.
Rheubert traveled to the Dominican Republic and began work with local biologists and members of a local university, UCATEBA (Universidad Católica Tecnológica de Barahona), to investigate the reproductive biology of native lizards. Both collaborative events will include undergraduate students from the University of Findlay. Undergraduate students will work closely with Henderson-Dean and Rheubert to collect data and test hypotheses. More specifically, undergraduate students may develop microbial cultures, run DNA analyses, collect lizards, and/or perform histological analyses.
Biological research culminates with the presentation of the researcher’s findings and the faculty at the University of Findlay had plenty to share. Many of the faculty attended a variety of conferences across the nation. Dolan presented his research on forest ecology and the influence of the emerald ash borer in Delaware, Ohio, Savannah, Georgia, and Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Henderson-Dean attended the National Noyce conference in Washington D.C. and the Noyce Program at the Kennedy Space Center. Kaia Skaggs, Ph.D., presented her research on the role of microglia in neurogenesis and gene expression during brain regeneration in adult zebra fish in Orlando, Florida. Lastly, Rheubert published a paper on the reproductive cycle of a race-runner lizard from Mexico in Revista Mexicana de Biodiversidad.
These are just a few notable things the Biology Department at the University of Findlay was involved in this summer. Follow the Department of Natural Sciences on Facebook to stay tuned to all the excitement that surrounds the program throughout the year.
We look forward to seeing the students return and welcoming incoming freshmen. What adventures will we take next? This could be up to you!