By: Adrian Modzik, Honors College Senior
As a senior studying biology, my academic focus has always been on human biology. Beyond my required classes (like genetics and ecology), I have taken courses such as immunology, microbiology, and cellular physiology. However, when choosing what to do my Senior Honors Project on, I went a little outside my comfort zone. I did this because when I was searching for a mentor, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, but I knew the type of mentor I wanted to have.
Dr. Goodwillie fit that bill perfectly. I took Genetics with Dr. Goodwillie, and she is one of my absolute favorite professors. She never failed to take a very challenging topic and turn it in to a very simple one by the end of class. She used a lot of visual demonstrations, and she involved the class by picking volunteers to help with each one. It was very clear that she deeply cared about the success of her students. The knowledge I gained in her class has been the information that I have retained the best throughout my college career. I thoroughly enjoyed the subject, so I decided I wanted to do something with genetics for my project.
What I did not expect was to work with plants. Like I said before, most of my college career has been focused on the human model. However, through working with my own little plants, I have found a joy in doing research I never thought I would get. As a part of my research, I repotted upwards of 250 plants into individual tubes. These plants were approximately ½ an inch in length with very fragile roots. It was a tough yet delicate task. I found to my surprise that I was very successful at it. I began to love the hours I spent doing work in the lab, gaining a sense of accomplishment when I completed each pot.
When I first started doing research, I was collecting data for another student’s Senior Honors Project. I was measuring things like pore size and pollen count on the same species of plants I am working with now. As I worked, I found myself subconsciously trying to make a hypothesis on how the data would come out and what it would show. It was really cool to see if what I thought would happen, actually did happen. That was the first time I really had my interest sparked for research and that spark has persisted ever since.
However, as a student, I will admit I am a procrastinator. I am used to working to a deadline and getting everything in right at the last minute. So, to consistently work on a large project like this is a challenge for me. I have never done thesis writing, and it is hard for me to organize my thoughts in a coherent fashion in such a large paper. Dr. Goodwillie has been very supportive of me as a mentor, but I feel that I am going to need to find some way to structure myself. I am confident after the end of this process however, that I will have developed the necessary skills to successfully navigate any future challenge of this nature.
I am so grateful that the Honors College has pushed me into this experience; I would not have taken the initiative to do it on my own. If I had not been pushed, I would never have known how much I love it. I am looking forward to the conclusion of my project to see what my results are!