Turnage Spends Summer Researching

Arkansas Tech University senior Nicole Turnage is putting her classroom knowledge into practice this summer as she learns more about DNA analysis of green algae.

Turnage, a senior biology major from Greenbrier, is taking part in the Assessment and Sustainable Management of Ecosystem Services Research Experience for Undergraduates in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

The program allows undergraduate students to further their research skills by partnering with professors and mentors.

“The program started out with classes where we discussed topics that related to ecological issues and and research.  Some of the things we covered in the classes included environmental economics, how to keep a lab or field notebook and ethics,” said Turnage. “After the classes, I have been working with a graduate student on a part of her project.  I have learned how to isolate DNA from algae samples, how to do gel electrophoresis and how to do data analysis.”

In addition to learning more about research, Turnage says she has spent time writing as well.

“I have had the opportunity to learn how to write literature reviews, which is important for writing a final paper and for project proposals to request support and funding,” said Turnage.

Her favorite part is getting to network with the other students and learn more about a career in the field.

“I was interested in this internship because I wanted to gain more experience in order to become a more desirable candidate for graduate school admissions.  I also wanted the ability to focus on environmental-related research,” said Turnage.  “One part of the experience I’ve enjoyed is a dinner event that takes place each Wednesday evening.  While all of the student-researchers are eating dinner, we hear presenters discuss topics that are related to graduate school admission and employment.  It’s been beneficial information.”

Turnage says her experiences in the program and at Arkansas Tech have helped her grow in her chosen profession.

“These experiences have given me more confidence in furthering my education,” said Turnage.  “I definitely see a different side of science and a more realistic view of the scientific community.  Ever since I transferred to Arkansas Tech, I have gained more confidence in my abilities and have been given more opportunities to advance.”

After graduating in May, Turnage hopes to continue her education, and she eventually would like to obtain a doctoral degree in science or engineering.

Learn more about the College of Natural and Health Sciences.

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