Amy Iler, '05
Muskingum was the first choice for 2005 graduate Amy Iler, a conservation science major from Marion, Ohio. Once she was awarded a John Glenn full-tuition scholarship following Scholarship Day, the decision was easy. “I was primarily drawn to Muskingum because the community seemed so friendly and welcoming,” Iler says.
In 2010, Iler earned her Ph.D. in Evolution, Ecology & Organismal Biology. She then took a research position with the University of Maryland. She was recently awarded a Marie Curie Fellowship to do research in Denmark, at the Aarhus Institute for Advanced Studies at Aarhus University for two years.
As a student at Muskingum, Iler “loved all of my science courses at Muskingum, especially Jim Dooley’s Evolution class.” She says she decided to pursue graduate studies because, “I just found myself wanting to know more about ecology & evolution after finishing my all of my coursework; additionally, I enjoyed the challenges and rewards of field work after conducting my capstone research project at The Wilds. Although it did not work as I had planned, I learned a great deal about what it means to actually perform ecological field research; I really enjoyed that process.”
Iler explains how her liberal arts education has aided her in her postgraduate research: “My ability to think critically was developed through coursework and class discussions at Muskingum, which is something that is huge for everyday life and something I use constantly in my academic career. Muskingum also provided me with the practical experiences I needed to succeed, such as internships and field research.”
Iler appreciates the personal relationships she developed with faculty members at Muskingum. “Especially after teaching at a larger academic institution, I realize how valuable that is. I called my undergraduate advisor, Jim Dooley, the day I found out that I had my first interview for a tenure-track faculty position. We talked for at least an hour, and he gave me the best advice, as usual. (The position was ultimately not funded, but the interview went well and was great practice!)”
Iler advises students looking toward the future: “Don’t be afraid to try new things or pursue experiences that challenge you. Try to maintain a healthy balance between career choices that will make you happy and provide a competitive salary (money is not everything). Finally, I do not recommend going to graduate school just because you are uncertain about what you want to do next. There are plenty of great career paths that do not require a graduate degree.”