From book text to life.

2010 Karen JessupKaren Jessup ’10

The experience of conducting research really helped me put the information learned in my biology classes into perspective and brought to life the information that had previously only been text in a book to me.

For my Capstone project, I studied the genetic composition of a population of Timber Rattlesnakes in Lycoming County, Pa., which has suffered extensive habitat loss due to human encroachment. Working with the blood of 17 snakes, I purified, sequenced, and compared the DNA using computer-analysis programs, determining the genetic composition of the populations living in different hibernating sites. My data will be used in order to determine if there is proper mating occurring to facilitate gene flow and maintain high levels of genetic variability, aiding in the ultimate goal of establishing a protection program for this at-risk species.

The sheer amount of time I spent in the lab gave me the opportunity to build close relationships with professors and fellow students and most importantly Dr. Lauretta Bushar, Associate Professor and Chair of Biology. As my thesis and research mentor, she provided the guidance that was crucial for a successful senior year, continually providing me with the constructive criticism I needed to improve upon my thesis, while also providing the support necessary to make it through the long process. But she is just one in the network of professors who helped me achieve my undergraduate goals.

I am the 2010 recipient of the Paul R. Cutright Award, the Ellington Beavers Award and the Robert L. Swaim Award for my Capstone project, research and overall academic standing. I was extremely grateful because it allowed me to take steps in my research that I otherwise would not have had the funds to complete. The awards also allowed me to attend a research conference at St. Joseph’s University.

Arcadia has provided me with the coursework foundation necessary to be successful in medical school. My professors played a pivotal role both in educating me as well and supporting my efforts by writing recommendation letters for medical school and the Air Force scholarship. I am currently a Second Lieutenant in the Air Force, and when I return I will begin medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine on a full tuition Air Force Scholarship studying to become an Orthopedic surgeon.

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