ACS Collaborative Researcher
Rollins College, Class of 2013
“It was very rewarding, after reading research papers and studies on white pox disease, to be in the lab and the field, actually conducting the research and doing the science that I had been reading about for so long,” says Emily Nys, senior Marine Biology major at Rollins College. Emily spent summer 2012 conducting research in Dr. Erin Lipp’s lab at UGA as a part of the National Science Foundation’s Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program.
Bachelor of Arts in Marine Biology, graduating May 2013
What made you choose to attend Rollins College?
“When I first visited Rollins, I was stunned by the beautiful campus and the friendliness of the students, faculty, and staff I encountered. The learning environment at Rollins, which included small class sizes and chances to interact with, and conduct independent research with, faculty drew me to Rollins. In addition, I was offered a full scholarship to attend Rollins, which gave me the opportunity to attend the school of my dreams.”
How did you end up spending a summer doing research at UGA?
“My advisor at Rollins, Dr. Kathryn Sutherland, made me aware of the opportunity to apply for an REU [Research Experience for Undergraduates, funded by the National Science Foundation] program, through which I would work with Dr. Erin Lipp on the same bacterium (Serratia marcescens) with which I would be working for my senior thesis. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to work with coral diseases, something I’ve wanted to do since my first year at Rollins. I was fortunate enough to be offered the position in Dr. Lipp’s lab.”
What are some of the highlights of your summer at UGA?
“First and foremost – I learned so much! Aside from one semester of Independent Research at Duke Marine Lab, I had not worked in a lab independently – only through lab courses. I had also never worked with microbiology. Dr. Lipp and the graduate student I worked with this summer, Keri Goodman, were awesome mentors and taught me so many valuable lab, research, and time management skills. I also enjoyed exploring the town of Athens – which seemed to be the perfect college town. I was fortunate to be there during “AthFest” – an annual music celebration involving artists playing at different venues throughout Athens. Lastly, I was able to go with Dr. Lipp and Dr. Sutherland to the Florida Keys at the end of the summer to help with field research. That was another very valuable experience for me – I got to snorkel on the reefs of the Keys and help with the collecting and processing of coral mucus samples. It was very rewarding, after reading research papers and studies on white pox disease, to be in the lab and the field, actually conducting the research and doing the science that I had been reading about for so long.”
How will you continue your research and integrate what you’ve learned when you return to Rollins this fall?
“In the fall and spring, I will be conducting research with Dr. Sutherland through the Rollins Research Independent Study/Faculty Collaboration and the Honors Programs. We will be researching the effects of glucose enrichment at varying temperatures on the survival of the coral pathogen Serratia marcescens PDR60. The research that I conducted at UGA this summer directly correlates with what I am doing this year. The skills I learned at UGA will help me significantly while I continue research on Serratia at Rollins.”
What is your role in the collaborative research project?
“I am an undergraduate student working closely with Dr. Sutherland at Rollins and Dr. Lipp at UGA on discerning information about the degree of virulence and conditions for survival of the coral pathogen Serratia marcescens.”
What do you see as the primary benefits of collaborative research?
“I contend that collaborative research is essential for the survival and proliferation of scientific research. Dr. Lipp and Dr. Sutherland both have their areas of expertise and do their own research; but when their efforts are combined, we can learn so much more about what we are studying. In addition, every person thinks differently – so one researcher may have thought of a solution to a problem the other was having and could not figure out, or present another way to analyze data/pick out trends the other might not have thought of, etc. The exchange of information and discoveries is essential to continuing efficient research.”
Do you have any words of wisdom for others who may be interested in collaborative research?
“Collaborative research is a very unique and valuable experience; be inquisitive and take every opportunity presented to you.”
Plans for after Rollins?
I hope to attend graduate school and obtain my master’s degree or Ph.D. in the field of marine biology. My eventual goal is to teach at a small, liberal arts school like Rollins.
Hobbies, Activities you’re involved in at Rollins, Other things you would like to share?
“I’m captain of the Rollins College Varsity Sailing Team this year and mentor a student at Fern Creek Elementary. I am very passionate about the oceans and ocean conservation, and I love to bake and read in my free time.”
The Rollins/UGA collaborative team includes five principal investigators in the fields of coral disease ecology and microbiology (Kathryn Sutherland, Department of Biology, Rollins College), coral reef ecology (Jim Porter, Odum School of Ecology, UGA), environmental microbiology (Erin Lipp, Department of Environmental Health Science, UGA), genetics (John Wares, Department of Genetics, UGA), and ecological modeling (Andrew Park, Odum School of Ecology, UGA).
Our team also includes undergraduate students from Rollins College (Hunter Noren, Emily Nys, and Molly Broome), and undergraduates (Kelsey Montgomery), graduate students (Jessica Joyner, Meredith Meyers, Keri Goodman, Beck Frydenborg, Ashton Griffin, Brett Berry) and post-doctoral researchers (Dustin Kemp, Carrie Futch, Ron Eytan) from UGA.