Students Embark On Cutting Edge Research With NASA
A growing number of Southern Nazarene University’s science students are becoming actively involved in cutting edge research, a majority of which takes students far beyond the classroom. One of the ways SNU has achieved this is to partner with scientific organizations and entities that offer these unique research opportunities.
This past summer, junior science education major Andi Will and sophomore biology-chemistry, pre-med major Greg Sattler were given an opportunity to conduct research through the NASA Research Program. According to Will, their research was focused on studying the effects of herbicides on insect populations.
The duo studied the difference between insect populations in a grass hay field that was untreated and a grass hay field that had been treated with an herbicide periodically for a number of years. “We have used two methods of collecting insects: sweep nets and pitfall traps,” explained Will. “Sweep nets are for catching flying insects and pitfalls are for catching ground crawling insects. We are hoping to see some variation in data that suggests that there are differences in the insect communities in each field.”
Sattler said about 4,000 arthropods were collected. DNA barcoding was also used to determine genus and species name of some of the most common specimens. “We have also had to quantify any differences in soil quality and plant diversity in the two fields through random sampling and chemical tests,” said Sattler.
This research project has given Will a better understanding of the research process in general. She said this knowledge would be crucial for her to teach science at the high school level, which is her career goal. Will also said this project has shown her a new side of the scientific process. Sattler said the project has afforded him a crucial learning experience that will help prepare him for medical school. “It is giving me a better understanding of and experience with the research process,” said Sattler. “It is also something I find very interesting and have enjoyed doing, which is something that medical schools look for.”
Will also noted that the project has been one of the most satisfying learning experiences she has experienced thus far at SNU. “The most rewarding part has been being able to work with a partner who has similar interests and looks forward to the same outcomes that I do,” she said. Dr. David Hoekman oversaw both students as they conducted their research.
2015 NASA Summer Research Synopsis from Dr. Hoekman