Excellence in Undergraduate Research

Southern Illinois University

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Excellence in Undergraduate Research

April 22, 2013

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As an undergraduate in Animal Science, Food, and Nutrition, Julie Schroeter thought she might want to be a veterinarian until she got her hands wet working with fish. Julie comes from a family with strong agricultural ties and worked her way through high school as a farm hand picking vegetables, watering greenhouse plants, and feeding and caring for livestock. Julie also worked at feed and pet shop in St. Louis, where she maintained the aquarium systems for pet fish sales. It was there that she developed an interest in fish and the systems they live in.

As an undergraduate at SIUC, Julie volunteered for a semester in the Fish Physiology Lab under the direction of Dr. Brian Small. She liked the work so much she decided to apply for a university Research-Enriched Academic Challenge (REACH) Award to evaluate the roles of gut hormones in modulating channel catfish appetite. Julie received the award and conducted the research under Dr. Small’s direction. This experience provided her with many new knowledge and skill sets, including proposal writing, experimental design, managing fish health, aquaculture systems, laboratory assays, and data analysis. Julie presented her research at the SIUC 2012 Undergraduate Research Forum and St. Louis Area Undergraduate Research Symposium (StLAURS). She also has a published abstract in the Proceedings on the 10th International Congress on the Biology of Fish and plans to submit her undergraduate research to a peer-reviewed research journal for publication.

It’s fair to say the undergraduate research experience Julie got at SIUC helped her identify her strengths and redefined her career goals. Julie applied to the graduate school at SIUC and will begin working on her Master’s of Science degree this fall in Dr. Small’s Fish Physiology Lab.