2023 Biology Student Awards
Elizabeth is conducting ambitious research that investigates amphibian species assemblages
in ephemeral wetlands using an
eDNA genomic technique called metabarcoding. Elizabeth has received grants from Great Smokey Mountains Conservation
Association and the WKU Graduate School and has several additional grant applications pending. Elizabeth has one
publication in a peer-reviewed journal, with another in review, and has made several contributions to the online database
GenBank. Elizabeth has proven herself to be a quality teaching assistant, a dedicated student, and conscientious departmental
citizen worthy of this award. Elizabeth will be completing her M.S. next fall and plans to continue with a Ph.D.
Matt has excelled in his coursework, teaching, and research progress during his first
year as a graduate student at WKU.
He will be conducting his thesis research on the effects of zai pit agriculture and human-elephant conflicts on food security
in southern Kenya. Matt has obtained funding from the WKU Graduate School to travel and conduct research in Kenya.
Matt enjoys teaching and is conscientious, hard-working, and insightful. He is also an Eagle Scout and has served in
leadership roles for several wildlife societies.
Madison has been an exceptional teaching assistant and has taught the Animal Biology
and Diversity Lab for four
semesters. Madison has received excellent teaching evaluations with scores well above university and departmental
means. She is very comfortable and approachable in the classroom, and students respect and enjoy her teaching style.
Madison conveys good control of her labs while creating a comfortable environment for her students. She has truly
mastered making strong connections with them.
Gabe is a Biology major with a Biophysics minor and has conducted research on the
protective effects of melanin in the
inner ear of fish in Dr. Michael Smith’s laboratory. He is a recipient of multiple grants and awards that include the Al
Young Memorial Scholarship, the LSAMP NSF Scholarship, the NIH Stanford CVI Grant, a FUSE grant, an Honors
Development Grant, and a QTAG grant. Gabe also volunteers at local hospitals and is a founding member of the WKU
chapter of the American Medical Association. Overall, Gabe is a very dedicated student.
Andrea is a Biology major with a Psychology minor and has conducted research that
examines sleep patterns of arcticbreeding songbirds using behavioral ethogram analysis
in Dr. Noah Ashley’s laboratory. Andrea presented her research at
the WKU Research Conference both last year this year. She has worked diligently to take care of research mice and birds at
the WKU vivarium as an animal care technician. Andrea is extremely hard-working, cheerful, and independent and she
enjoys working with animals.
Callie is a stellar student who is pursuing a Molecular Biotechnology major. Her research
aptitude is strong and multiple
faculty members have commented on how her classroom aptitude mirrors this. Callie maintains a rigorous research
schedule in the lab studying yeast genetics in Dr. Joseph Marquardt’s laboratory and independently developed her own
project. She helps train other students in the lab and is interested in pursuing graduate school. Callie also serves as
president of the Association of Geneticists Club at WKU.
Molly is a Molecular Biotechnology major and has performed microbiological research
by preparing biofilms for the scanning
electron microscope using room temperature ionic liquids. Molly has also completed a large series of electron microscope
photos documenting a new species of unicellular eukaryote that is being included in a publication. Molly is inquisitive, hardworking, and dependable. She assisted with maintaining microbial strains and media for two biology courses and has worked
at the Biotechnology Center since 2021. Molly is currently applying for graduate programs in microbiology.
Jerica is a Biology major with a Psychological Sciences minor. Jerica completed an
Honors Capstone thesis examining
the effects of Roundup herbicide and Roadrunner road salt on growth and development of amphibian larvae. She has
obtained both internal (FUSE) and external (Tri-beta) funding to support her work. Jerica has published two papers
in peer-reviewed journals and presented her work at local and regional conferences. Additionally, Jerica serves as the
president of the WKU Wildlife and Conservation Club, secretary of the Ecology Club, and as a Bioambassador. Jerica will
be continuing in the WKU Biology M.S. program this fall.
Emily has a double major in Biology and Dance with a minor in Biophysics. She has
approached these seemingly disparate
disciplines in a holistic manner, using her knowledge of physiology to improve her performance and her knowledge
of dance to help younger students develop study skills as a BioCoach. She is well-rounded, curious, authentic, and is
particularly enthusiastic about long-term service to her community through rural medicine. Emily values personal
relationships and plans to use her medical practice to make a true difference in people’s quality of life. She will be
attending University of Louisville Medical School in the fall.