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      Biology Grants

      Upper Level Biology Course Helps Multiple Students Secure Grants

      Carlie Sisco, English and creative writing '19

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      Grant Recipients

      Stephanie Saylor, Anne Lucius and Lia Kent were awarded a $936 Sigma Xi Grant that they applied for as part of the Physiological Ecology of Extreme Environments class.

      Three teams of students, who were enrolled last semester in Physiological Ecology of Extreme Environments, received grants for their research projects.

      In the upper level biology course dedicated to conducting experimental research, students are expected to apply for grants as part of the course curriculum. Professor Itzick Vatnick, chair of the biology department, has been teaching the course for over 10 years and believes having students apply for grants is a crucial part of the research process.

      "In the real world, when scientists want to carry out an experiment, they apply for extended funds," Vatnick said. "We want to mimic what happens during this scientific process of investigation to provide students with real world experience."

      Senior biology and pre-physical therapy major Stephanie Saylor was one of the few undergraduates to receive the Sigma Xi Grant. Saylor, along with her group members Anne Lucius and Lia Kent, were awarded $936, the entirety of the sum requested, for their research on exposing crayfish to different acidities, studying the effects of the acidification of freshwater environments.

      "This grant is a huge honor, which will be used to purchase equipment for the project such as food, crayfish, and the chemicals to make the buffers the crayfish sit in," Saylor said.

      Several members of the course also received the TriBeta Research Grant. Among the recipients was senior biology major Evan Perkowski. Perkowski and his colleague, Alyssa Myers, were awarded $250 to supply equipment for their research providing evidence that certain host plant species could be used as agents for the conservation of endangered moth and butterfly species that feed on similar host plants.

      Perkowski applauded Widener academic programs for developing courses such as this one that encourage independent thinking, research development, and emphasize effective communication skills.

      "I find that many students leave Widener's biology program with an upper hand in critical thinking skills and general research experience, which extends far beyond getting into graduate school or applying for a job," he said.

      Junior biology and pre-physical therapy major, Katie Hayes and her group members, Wolfgang Trumbauer and Megan Racioppi also received a grant from TriBeta totaling $500 for their research examining the effects of acidic conditions on the motor behavior of juvenile Diamondback terrapins.

      The grant will help purchase new cleaning supplies, tanks, and updated equipment, as well as travel fees for an upcoming conference Hayes and her group will be presenting at. Hayes is grateful for the opportunity to pursue her research and love for the environment with the help of this grant.

      "Every small action can help create a better future," Hayes said. "If my research provides the data that will set others into action, then I've left a platform for someone else to leave their mark."


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