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b2ap3_thumbnail_Rachel-N_20150806-182248_1.jpgUpon her arrival at her internship in an unfamiliar jungle located in a foreign country, Rachel Narasimhan, as one might expect, felt a bit homesick. However, she received comfort from an unlikely source, in the form a baby howler monkey named Stevie. After that moment, she never looked back.

This summer, the Waynesburg University senior biology major spent a month as an intern at Aloutta Sanctuary, a rehabilitation and research center located on the Chiriqui Peninsula of Panama, observing and working with monkeys like Stevie. During her time at the sanctuary, she was able to work with many different types of monkeys, including two capuchins, two Geoffrey’s Tamarins and two baby howlers.

While there, Narasimhan was provided with many opportunities to interact with and observe these monkeys, taking on responsibilities such as providing enrichment for them and watching and recording any behaviors they might exhibit that are typical to monkeys in captivity. Each day, she spent nearly an hour documenting howler behavior in order to compile an ethogram, an inventory of every behavior exhibited by the howlers during the period of time in question. It was through observations such as these that she learned how to read and interpret their facial expressions and body language, so as to improve her interactions with the monkeys.

“It is one thing to see them in photographs and to learn about their behavior in a textbook, but nothing compares to seeing it in person,” Narasimhan said.

She was also able to bond with these animals through activities such as grooming sessions and cuddling with the babies. To prevent the monkeys from becoming bored, the interns often rearranged the branches in their enclosure or hid food in interesting places for them to find, tasks fun for both the monkeys and the staff.

In addition to working with the monkeys, Narasimhan spent time studying the effects of teak harvesting in a local teak plantation on the animals that live there. Despite being profitable, teak plantations are often devastating to local mammal populations. However, she found that through collecting the teak in a way that leaves the understory rather than completely removing it, the plantation will be more sustainable.

“Conservation and sustainability are the reason for all of our work at Aloutta, and I [enjoyed] learning about how to make the world a better place, one step at a time,” Narasimhan said.

Narasimhan feels as though she was truly blessed to have had the opportunity to spend part of her summer at the Aloutta Sanctuary. The experience has showed her how much she enjoys working with animals. Upon graduation from Waynesburg University with a major in biology and a minor in psychology, she hopes to be able to continue doing the type of work she experienced during her time in Panama.

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Posted by on in Internships

b2ap3_thumbnail_King.jpgGabrielle King, senior biology major

Maryland sea grant REU fellow, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science in Cambridge, Md. 

With the iconic Chesapeake Bay as her subject of study, Gabrielle King spent her summer months as a Maryland Sea Grant REU Fellow at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES). 

A senior biology major from Clairton, Pa., King’s main responsibility was to characterize predator-prey interactions between copepod Eurytemora carolleege nauplii and Heterocapsa rotundata, both species that thrive in the Chesapeake Bay area. In order to determine interactions, King conducted grazing and survival experiments that she later presented to her co-workers at the end of the summer. 

Spending 40 hours a week at an internship may seem daunting for some students, but for King, she saw it as an opportunity. 

“I applied to my internship because I wanted to get real research experience in marine biology,” said King. “I read about potential mentors at the program who worked with plankton as well as other organisms, and that piqued my interest. I had zero experience with plankton, so I was really hoping I could do some research with them.”

Although not entirely sure what to expect, King felt confident and prepared heading into her internship because of the strong academics she received at Waynesburg University. 

“My courses gave me the background in biology that I needed in order to successfully participate in the program,” said King. “A general biology background in areas like ecology served as a basis from which I was able to build my research.”

Working with an organization centered around sustainability and the livelihoods of people, King was able to recognize the importance of service and relate it back to Waynesburg’s mission. 

“The knowledge I gained this summer not only fueled my passion for learning, but also contributed to my understanding of the Chesapeake Bay which can be used to help others,” said King. “The more we know, the better we can address issues and keep the Bay healthy.”


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Posted by on in Internships

b2ap3_thumbnail_Cochran_20141205-150814_1.jpgIsaiah Cochran, senior biology (pre-med) major

Catalyst SCRPT intern at Harvard University in Boston, Mass.

Isaiah Cochran spent the summer of 2014 interning at an institution where many scholars dream to study and research. The senior pre-med major gained both research and hands-on experience as a Catalyst SCRPT intern at Harvard University. 

Cochran worked mostly in the laboratory alongside Dr. Charles Nelson, a cognitive neuroscience professor, where he studied the 4:1 male to female ratio seen in neurological disorders. In addition, he assisted with clinical observations in regards to Autism Spectrum Disorder, completed a biostatistics course and shadowed physicians. 

Cochran, who interned at Yale University in the summer of 2013, attributes much of his success and the opportunities presented to him to Waynesburg University. 

“I have learned so much at Waynesburg. The professors give us a support system. They know you and they know what will make you successful,” Cochran said. “I have had this fire in me to change the world since I was in eighth grade. With the opportunities that I have been given, I know that it is just a matter of time before I do.”


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b2ap3_thumbnail_Cochran-resized.jpgWhen he respectfully declined a full ride to a large Ohio state school, many of Isaiah Cochran’s high school friends thought he was crazy. But the aspiring neurosurgeon knew that God had something better in store for him – a life changing experience at Waynesburg University. After hearing of his acceptance into Waynesburg, a school he admired for rigorous academics and faithful service, and after receiving the supreme financial security offered by the Ohio Honors Scholarship, Cochran couldn’t decline the opportunity.  

“When I was notified that I received the Ohio Honors Scholarship, I was in my high school eighth period Spanish Class. I remember crying when I heard the news,” Cochran said. “All I know is the scholarship has allowed me to do things that most college students could only dream of; it has brought me one step closer to achieving my ultimate dream of making a difference in this world. God has blessed me in way that I cannot comprehend.”

One of those blessings resulted in an esteemed internship with a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Program, an initiative sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The junior pre-med student and star Waynesburg University tennis player from Akron, Ohio, was selected from a pool of thousands nationwide to participate in the Sackler/NSF REU: Integrated Research at the Frontiers of the Biological, Physical and Engineering Sciences at Yale University's Raymond and Beverly Sackler Institute.

The Sackler/NSF REU program provides research training to students for 10 weeks under the mentorship of faculty members through research. In accordance with the program leadership team, students selected for the program choose a research project from three areas: mechanics of cellular processes, protein function and misfolding, or technology and method development for integrated research.

Cochran had the opportunity to participate in workshops and seminars ranging from laboratory methods to applying to graduate school. He also presented his work at a research symposium, which was held in conjunction with Yale's Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program and the Center of Excellence for Materials Research and Innovation (CEMRI) Center for Research on Interface Structure & Phenomena (CRISP) REU program at Yale.

“I think Isaiah made great strides, both intellectually and technically. Intellectually, I think that putting together his presentation and then getting up and presenting in front of a crowd was a great accomplishment,” Cochran’s Yale internship supervisor, Dr. Megan King, said. “In the lab, I think he gained tremendous progress in working independently and competently at the bench.”

Challenged by the meticulous work and demanding time constraints at Yale, Cochran reminded himself of the many people rooting for him and of the invaluable research experience that he would gain. Though he was surrounded by new faces in an unfamiliar lab, Cochran felt right at home thanks to his laboratory and classroom training at Waynesburg University.

“It was very challenging. Some weeks I was in the lab for 60 hours a week trying to induce a double strand break into the yeast genome,” Cochran said. “I knew it would take a lot of hard work; what I did not expect was to be so well prepared for it. I can only thank the professors at Waynesburg for my strong science background.”

During the internship, Cochran worked in a lab focusing on DNA repair pathways. His summer project included inducing the double strand so that two distinct proteins could potentially ligate the DNA back together. As DNA repair becomes more successful, Cochran said it could usurp medicine as a way to cure diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s.

“My favorite internship experience was learning and building a great foundation that I hope I can use as a clinician in neurology as well as a researcher in neurology,” Cochran said. “I also made some amazing connections. I think they will remember that a student from Waynesburg did a good job.”

With a passion for enhancing the medical world, Cochran initiated an American Medical Student Association (AMSA) chapter as a freshman at Waynesburg, but he didn’t stop there. Now a junior, he serves as a national Pre-Medical Region 1 Director for the AMSA, with responsibilities to oversee more than 105 university and college AMSA Chapters across 12 states.

“Medicine is not about self-glory; it is about doctoring, whether you have ‘Dr.’ in front of your name or not,” said Cochran. “There is a revolution coming in medicine and it is geared towards patient equality.”

He has relished the hands-on learning opportunities afforded to him at Waynesburg and has cited professors, coaches and even the President of Waynesburg University for personal help and support along the way.

“I have learned so much at Waynesburg. The professors give us a support system. They know you and they know what will make you successful,” Cochran said. “I have had this fire in me to change the world since I was in 8th grade. With the opportunities that I have been given, I know that it is just a matter of time before I do.”







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b2ap3_thumbnail_Carolyn-Highland.JPGPriority application offers a number of perks. For Carolyn Highland, a junior biology major with minors in chemistry and English, a 4.0 GPA and a bevy of leadership roles at Waynesburg University, those perks come as a result of hard work. When she applied early to Miami University’s Chemistry & Biochemistry summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Program, she was accepted almost immediately and had the opportunity to tailor her summer internship to her unique interests.

“Although most of the other students in my program worked as assistants to graduate student researchers for the summer, I was given my own project,” Highland said. “I examined quantities and structures of tannins, or plant-produced macromolecules, in several species of Juniper plants.”

She was selected from a pool of thousands nationwide to participate in an (REU) Program, an initiative sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF).Programs pair students with professionals in the field of science based on research interests.

“Carolyn’s project required her to learn new concepts and new techniques.  Learning how to approach a new area of study and integrate new information with things learned in a formal classroom setting is an important professional accomplishment,” said Dr. Ann E. Hagerman, Highland’s internship supervisor and research professor at Miami University. “She is a good student and her background is quite strong.  She is well prepared to continue her studies.”

The undergraduate research associate spent 40 to 50 hours a week in Miami University’s science lab, immersed in her research of Tannins, which exhibit antioxidant properties for human health. She hopes to continue her research after graduating from Waynesburg University and to earn a doctorate in biochemistry.

Highland, who balances her academics and Waynesburg University biology club membership with involvement in Student Senate at the vice president level, said that Waynesburg’s mission of faith, serving and learning played an enormous role at her internship.

“It is very, very important that scientists record and report their results with absolute honesty and respect the earth and its inhabitants,” Highland said. “Sometimes, doing the most ethical thing in research is not the easiest, but Waynesburg teaches students to be honest and do what’s right, no matter what.”

Those teachings, coupled with rigorous Waynesburg coursework and a significant internship opportunity, prepared Highland to begin her junior year, validated her career goals and introduced her to a new level of analysis.

“The ability to perform an experiment is important in research, but only secondary to the ability to think through and understand the reasons for its potential outcomes,” Highland said. “The excellent classroom and laboratory instruction I received at Waynesburg combined with the REU internship gave me the opportunity to begin transforming my way of thinking from that of a student to that of a scientist.”

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