Tag Archives: PUC research

Student Research Profile: Sierra Trogdon and Antonio Robles

Sierra (2nd from left) and Antonio (2nd from right) and fellow classmates also spent time snorkeling in Honduras, when they weren’t conducting research.

Meet Sierra Trogdon and Antonio Robles. Sierra recently graduated from PUC with a degree in biology, while Antonio is still working towards completing his degree. They both conducted research with Dr. Floyd Hayes studying sea urchins in Roatán, Honduras, last summer.

Who are you?
I’m Sierra Trogdon and I graduated PUC with bachelor’s in biology. I plan to start veterinary school in the next few years.

I’m Antonio Robles and I’m a sophomore biology major. I plan to go on to medical school and specialize in family practice.

What did you do?
We participated in research with Dr. Hayes studying the symbiotic associations between rock-boring urchins and fish. Most of the work involved natural observations, counting holes with the urchins, and writing down every species seen in the hole. In intervals of 10 minutes, we spotted a fish and counted how many holes with rock-boring urchins they associated with. The study involved studying thousands of sea urchin burrows and tallying the different species seen hiding in their burrows.

When and where did you do this work?
The research took place over a period of eight days during the summer of 2017 in Roatán, Honduras.

What did you learn?
Sierra: During the research project I learned how to identify the various types of sea urchins, fish, and other species involved in the study. I also learned and realized just how tedious and time consuming it is to obtain accurate and reliable data. It was not as easy as simply counting and tallying the species. There were thousands of sea urchin burrows and each hole had to meet the right criteria in order to count. There were a couple times where I had to start over and redo counts to increase the accuracy and reliability.

Antonio: I hadn’t realized the fascinating opportunity research can give you to construct interpersonal skills by getting together with students and professors that are interested in finding one new aspect of the behavior of a certain species. Often we would get together to review our data and plan on how we will collect more as a group. I learned how working in groups is important in research as well and the importance of communication in the field. In addition, I learned how to record data in the coral reefs and new ways to observe nature with a curious mind.

How did your experience at PUC help prepare you for this experience?
Sierra: PUC helped prepare me by teaching me the general biology involving the marine life I encountered. The Intro to Research Methods class also played a major role in preparing me for the research I did. I planned and proposed a research paper that included background information and methods for counting the sea urchin burrows. This significantly increased my understanding of the research that was being done.

Antonio: Taking Biological Foundations helped me understand the phyla and characteristics of the species we were observing which led to my understanding of the project better. The Tropical Biology class also made me understand the diversity in the coral reefs, potential harms, taxonomy, and potential dangers. For instance, knowing fire coral could sting me while researching in the shallow rocky areas would definitely have made me uncomfortable; however, having known this before from class led me to become aware of my surroundings and feel comfortable during the research process.

Student Research Profile: Erika Thalman

Erika (shown here with a fish she caught) spent several months working in a CDFW fish hatchery.

Meet Erika Thalman, a senior biology major at PUC. She’s planning on continuing on to graduate school after graduation. Last summer, Erika volunteered at the Moccasin Creek Hatchery helping with a wide variety of projects.

Who are you?
I’m Erika Thalman and I’m a senior biology major. I’m planning on going to graduate school to pursue a master’s degree in either natural resources, marine biology, or biology.

What did you do?
I helped with cleaning raceway ponds and feeding the fish. I also had the opportunity to work with a variety of people and do other things like water quality testing, weight counts, assisting in fish planting and public education, as well as participate in hand-spawning California golden trout.

When and where did you do this work?
In the summer of 2017, I volunteered twice a week from mid-July to late-September at the Moccasin Creek Hatchery.

What did you learn?
I learned how to get more involved in areas I’m interested in. Volunteering at this hatchery taught me many useful skills I can apply not only to future careers, but to my personal life as well. I discovered no matter what field you choose to work in, you always interact with people to some degree. This experience demonstrated how a great team of people work together despite their different personalities and temperaments. The hatchery personnel were so willing to teach me all they could about their work and their mission, and were even kind enough to advise me on how to get my foot in the door with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). Through this I saw how important it is to make connections wherever you go. You never know when they may come in handy.

How did your experience at PUC help prepare you for this experience?
The science courses I have taken at PUC gave me a good foundation for understanding how many of the processes at the hatchery worked. Classes like Ecology, Field Biology, and Biological Foundations made it easier to understand the different fish behaviors and how to handle the fish. Chemistry was also useful for water testing as well as in choosing medications or anesthetics. Lastly, Genetics contributed to my comprehension of different fish stocks and how the CDFW is able to prevent farmed fish from breeding with wild populations.

Student Research Profile: Amber Washington

Meet Amber Washington, a senior environmental studies major at PUC who plans to continue on to graduate school for forensic science. Last year, she conducted research at Skyline Wilderness Park in Napa Valley, analyzing different native plant species.

Who are you?
I’m Amber Washington and I’m a senior environmental studies major. I plan to go to graduate school to obtain my master’s degree in forensic science.

What did you do?
I was responsible for researching the different native plant species located in the Skyline Wilderness Park, which is home to the Napa Valley Chapter of the California Native Plant Society (CNPS). Also, as a member of the CNPS (Napa Valley Chapter), I participated in several restoration projects in the Martha Walker Native Habitat Garden in the Skyline Wilderness Park and the annual spring native plant sale.

When and where did you do this work?
My internship with the California Native Plant Society (Napa Valley Chapter) was for five months in the winter and spring of 2017.

What did you learn?
There are more than 200 California native plants in the Skyline Wilderness Park. These native plants classify as perennial herbs, annual herbs, ferns, grasses, shrubs, vines and trees. Each plant species have their own unique growing conditions that allow them to thrive, but sometimes their growth can be hindered due to non-native plants invading. That is why restoration projects are beneficial, being they help keep the native plants alive and well while getting rid of those plants that have the potential to destroy them.

How did your experience at PUC help prepare you for this experience?
Being an environmental studies major, I feel the Introduction to Research Methods class prepared me most for collecting accurate information on the native plants of the Skyline Wilderness Park. The Conservation Biology class gave me just the right amount of experience that allowed me to be of great assistance during the restoration projects of the Martha Walker Native Habitat Garden that I participated in. Previous knowledge of the anatomy of plants from a flowering project that was assigned in the Biological Foundations class also contributed to the success of my internship.

Student Research Profile: Jeff Grabow & Brandon Kim

Jeff (left) and Brandon (right) reviewed thousands of photographs in order to identify, describe, and quantify the mammals present in the PUC forest.

Meet Jeff Grabow and Brandon Kim, both senior biology majors at PUC. They both plan on continuing on to dental school after graduation. For the last several years, they have been conducting ongoing research to identify and count mammals in PUC’s back 40 forest.

Who are you?
I’m Jeff Grabow and I’m a senior biology major. I plan on a career in dentistry.

I’m Brandon Kim and I’m a senior biology/pre-dentistry student. I plan on going to dental school and specialize in oral maxillofacial surgery.

What did you do?
We participated in ongoing research to identify and count mammals in PUC’s back 40 forest. We were responsible for collecting data from motion-capture wildlife cameras, editing out non-data, and entering results into our log. These data include the species name, the time of day that the photo was taken, and the concentration of animals “captured” in a particular habitat.

When and where did you do this work?
Jeff: I’ve been part of this research project for the past two years.

Brandon: My research started in spring of 2017 and will continue through winter of 2018. We spend most of our time visiting the cameras in the back 40 and collecting/replacing memory cards. We view and categorize the photos in Clark Hall.

What did you learn?
Jeff: During this project I learned about the rich abundance of mammals we have in our woods here at PUC, including bobcats, river otters, and bears. I also learned about working with a team to come to the best conclusions when analyzing data.

Brandon: There are so many different things I learned from this experience but the most important is to be precise and to pay attention to detail. When looking at thousands of pictures a day, one has to keep a keen eye out for certain things within an image. Similarly, I realized the importance of having good communication skills as well as finding a research partner one enjoys working alongside. Having someone who is there for you as well as making a task more enjoyable is something I consider a significant thing I learned in this research project.

How did you experience at PUC help you prepare for this experience?
Jeff: My time at PUC taught me to write in an appropriate manner for our research. In addition, Dr. Hayes’ passion for animals (especially birds) has contributed to my growing admiration for the nature here on our hill.

Brandon: Being a biology major, one of the classes that helped me throughout this research project was Introduction to Research Methods. This course helped me throughout this research experience as it laid a foundation that enabled me to categorizing each animal to their specific subcategories within Excel. It helped me with the end of quarter research paper that we needed to submit that showed the culmination of our research that quarter. Similarly, taking Ecology helped when it came to an understanding the main goal regarding this project and how to break down each animal into their groups.

Student Research Profile: Chelsea Nicole Paclibar

Meet Chelsea Nicole Paclibar, a senior biology major at PUC. She plans to continue on to dental school and specialize in orthodontics after graduation. For the last year, she has been participating in a research study on Alzheimer’s disease.

Who are you?
I’m Chelsea Nicole T. Paclibar and I’m a senior biology major. I plan to go on to dental school at Loma Linda University and specialize in orthodontics.

What did you do?
I participated in a research that studied the relationship between Alzheimer’s disease and overeating. The hypothesis of the study was that overeating causes degenerative behavior in the nervous system. For this study, we grew C. elegans into healthy adults and collected their eggs after a few days. The eggs were then divided into six different conditions and a behavioral test was performed on the collected eggs. I was responsible for the data collection, which involved taking photos of the petri dishes containing the samples under a microscope, as well as measuring and calculating the length, thickness and volume of each specimen.

When and where did you do this work?
My research internship started in the fall of 2017 and will continue until spring of 2018. This work is supervised by Dr. Sung.

What did you learn?
I realized research work can be complex and overwhelming but also exciting because you get to discover new things and get to interact with people who you will work with towards accomplishing a common goal that can potentially create an impact in the world. I learned working on a research study requires a great deal of patience because data collection and analysis can take a while, thus, often leading to delayed results. I also learned working with other students can greatly enhance efficiency and allow for a better pool of creative ideas to approach the limitations we might have.

How did your experience at PUC help prepare you for this experience?
I’m a biology major and I’ve taken many required core classes and electives that provided me with the foundational skills and information needed to effectively do research. The Biological Foundation sequence prepared me very well and gave me the background knowledge to analyze data, to use a pipette and microscope, to prepare solutions, and to observe samples. Additionally, my Cell and Molecular Biology class equipped me with information on the cellular construction and development of the C. elegans allowing me to understand and evaluate its responses to the experiments and tests performed.