Maya Drzewicki (Marine Biology)

Maya Drzewicki photoWhat do you do for your undergraduate research?

As a freshman I started working in Dr. Taylor's lab studying the sensory biology of marine microzooplankton. I am also a NOAA Hollings scholar and for my summer internship I worked at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center in Santa Cruz, California studying the life history and ecosystem interactions of the ribbonfish "king-of-the-salmon." During my internship I was lucky enough to go on a 2-week research cruise to monitor the abundance of commercially important groundfishes. Currently I am working on my honors project in Dr. Scharf's lab studying stable isotope signatures in non-native catfish.

How did you start your research project, and what do you hope to gain from it?

When I came to UNCW I wanted to get involved in research as soon as possible.  As a freshman I took advantage of the resources around me, and through my attendance of BIO 202 SI sessions, I found out about an opening in Dr. Taylor's lab. I immediately jumped on the opportunity to get involved in one of the many interesting projects occurring in the lab. Over the summer after my freshman year I worked in the lab and became proficient in the graduate-level techniques of electrophysiology and high-speed video microscopy. At first there was a huge learning curve, but I worked with supportive people who encouraged me to try my best, even if that meant messing up a few times before I got things right.

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

Starting to work in a lab early in my undergraduate career was essential as it gave me valuable experience which prepared me for future research opportunities. My Hollings internship really challenged me to be even more independent as a researcher; to answer my questions on my own or to seek out the right people to help me answer my questions. Ultimately, I gained more confidence in my ability to plan and execute my own research project which will help me this year as I complete my honors project. After I started working in the lab, my research career snowballed--I was
awarded grants, the Hollings scholarship, and I even attended a conference. I've learned that if you take advantage of opportunities that interest you at UNCW and start small, you can eventually work your way up to more prestigious distinctions.

Did you receive any awards or recognitions for your research?

I received the George Barthalmus Research Grant, two CSURF supplies grants, the NOAA Hollings Scholarship, and the UNCW Jay Hensley Scholarship in marine science.

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