University of Findlay’s Department of Biology creates an engaging educational environment that emphasizes the connection between all life. Students learn about the delicate internal and external balance between humans, animals, and the environment in the classroom, research labs, Findlay’s 54-acre Rieck Center habitat, and through research projects that take them across the country. For Findlay graduate Megan Pasternak ’19, who is pursuing a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree from The Ohio State University, the learning isn’t done.
Having double majored in animal science and biology and minored in chemistry, she is pursuing a career in mixed animal practice while maintaining research studies. “I love the idea that my clients would trust me with their family members and best friends, that I could be responsible for individuals’ livelihoods and that through one health I could be protecting human, animal, and environmental health globally,” she said. “To me that would be the most meaningful life and productive career and that is exactly what the University has brought me one step closer to achieving.”
Pasternak was drawn to Findlay’s small class sizes and hands-on experience starting freshman year, but quickly found that the focus on undergraduate research and access to campus laboratories would shape her college journey. While her animal science courses gave her the opportunity to perform surgeries on animals and gave her confidence to work in the industry, she believes that participating in the biology program aided when applying to veterinarian school. Through the biology courses, she was enlightened on the laboratory side of medicine and research that plays a major role in veterinary medicine.
Biology faculty also played a major role in helping her achieve her goals. “Almost every opportunity that I received in terms of internships and job experiences during my time at Findlay can be attributed to university professors,” she said. “The faculty are extremely supportive and always maintain an open-door mentality for any student struggling with any issues.” Justin Rheubert, instructor in the biology program, is one such faculty member. He aided Pasternak in publishing her undergraduate research, facilitating laboratory and field experiences, and advocated on her behalf for veterinary school by reviewing her essays and resume, writing a letter of recommendation, and holding mock interviews. Additionally, Pasternak secured multiple jobs and internships through his recommendation and was his primary laboratory assistant responsible for overseeing other students and completing various research projects.
Key research in which Pasternak participated involved an analysis of research done on antimicrobial properties of snake venom, histomorphological variation of salamander feet, and the comparison of reproductive tracts in two lizard species. Her snake venom research has been published in the academic journal Toxicology, and the work she’s done investigating reproductive tracts is currently in the submission process. She hopes these projects open the door for future research in the field.
During her time at Findlay, Pasternak developed bonds with her peers, both personally and professionally. Within her major, her group of friends supported each other through classes and she hopes to collaborate with her friends in other majors on future projects. “Between friendships that will last throughout the years, remarkable classes and unique campus events, I have so many spectacular memories,” she said. She encourages students making their college decision to investigate as many aspects of university life as possible, but to also get engaged on campus once they are there. “If you give it a chance and truly allow your school to become your new home, the experience, like mine, can be so rewarding.”
While many students graduate and immediately enter into a career, the biology program boasts an 85% acceptance rate into graduate and professional school, and a 100% acceptance rate into veterinary school. By performing extensive undergraduate research and with the help of supportive faculty, Findlay students are well prepared to follow whatever career path they are most passionate about. For more information about the biology program, visit www.findlay.edu/biology.