Ashley DeLeon ('16 Marine Biology)

Ashley DeLeonWhat do you do for your undergraduate research?

For my research project I am currently working in a lab with Dr. Koopman and Dr. Andrew Westgate. The basis of my Honors Project will be analyzing musculature samples from basking sharks. This research will provide preliminary data for future studies of basking shark muscle and muscle physiology.

What made you want to pursue an undergraduate research project?

I love being in a lecture setting but I knew that if I wanted to get fully involved in marine biology I would need to get into the lab. Being in a lab provides you with hands-on knowledge that no PowerPoint can replace.

How did you start your research project?

During my academic advising with Dr. Koopman I expressed interest in undergraduate research and she graciously offered me a DIS opportunity in her lab. I started my undergraduate research conducting a DIS project. My DIS consisted of determining energy content of C5 copepods and lobster eggs using a bomb calorimeter. After my DIS concluded, I knew that I wanted to complete my Honors Project with them as well. I am extremely grateful for their continual help and support!

Was doing your own research fun? Be Honest.

Yes! It's so rewarding to finish running an experiment and review the data that I collected. Going to lab is something I look forward to most during my school week. I love having the opportunity to research in an environment of fellow undergraduate students, graduate students, and professors.

It isn't required to do research as an undergrad, so what advantages do you think this experience has provided you?

My undergraduate research experience has made me more prepared for my future career and higher education. It has also made me feel more confident in knowing that upon my graduation from UNCW I will already have lab experience in my field of study.

What recognition and/or grants did you receive for your research?

I was granted the Paul E. Hoiser Fellowship in addition to a Center for Marine Science Undergraduate Research Fellowship. I will present the progress of my research in a public forum before the end of spring semester 2015.

What are your plans after you receive your degree from UNCW?

After graduating from UNCW I plan on pursuing a Master's degree and eventually a PhD. I hope to continue researching basking sharks in addition to other shark species. My ultimate goal would be to have my research results aid in the conservation of these vital creatures.

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