Chelsea Crocker ('16, Biology)

Mary JaskowiakWhat do you do for your undergraduate research?

I work in Dr. Stephanie Kamel's lab conducting research on the population connectivity and larval dispersion of the eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica, across a network of marine reserves. Knowledge of larval dispersion and population connectivity is important to the success of resource management efforts, such as marine reserve networks. C. virginica oysters provide ecosystem services such as sediment stability, water quality improvement, and habitat for other valuable species in addition to providing millions of dollars to the economy annually. My research consists of genetic analysis including PCR, sequencing, and the use of several software programs to determine the relatedness among individuals.

What made you want to pursue an undergraduate research project?

I transferred to UNCW in the Fall of 2014 as junior after receiving my Associates in Science degree from Nash Community College. I had done undergraduate research at Nash Community, so I knew that it was something I wanted to do here at UNCW as well. I believe that undergraduate research is excellent preparation for graduate school, and beyond.

How did you start your research project?

When I transferred here I was looking for a lab to work in, and I was lucky enough to find Dr. Kamel. I did a DIS for a semester, and my research project stemmed from that experience.

Was doing your own research fun? Be Honest.

I love research! Some people might not think that spending hours in the lab sounds like a good time, but I would not have it any other way. I have learned a lot of information, several skills, and met wonderful people.

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

Undergraduate research provides the opportunity to learn skills and gain experience performing laboratory techniques. I feel that conducting research as an undergraduate has helped prepare me for graduate school and my future.

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

I received a CSURF supplies award for the Spring 2015 semester for research supplies. I also was awarded a UNCW Undergraduate Fellowship for 2015-16, the King Mackerel Tournament Undergraduate Fellowship.

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

I plan to attend graduate school to earn my Masters in Biology and then earn my PhD in the field of Immunology or Microbiology. I hope to have a career doing immunological research and development.

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