Muskingum University students are completing in-depth research projects this summer through the Muskie Research Fellows and related Research Fellows opportunities.
These selective programs provide students with a stipend and campus housing, allowing them to spend the summer working in collaboration with faculty members in hands-on research.
A team of four students partnered with Dr. Danny Ingold, Homer A. Anderson Distinguished Professor of Natural Science, and Dr. Jim Dooley, Bill and Martha Lovejoy Professor of Biology, in the ongoing Study of Populations of North American Grassland Birds, now in its 10th year. During most summers for the past 20 years, student teams have gathered grassland bird data at The Wilds, the largest conservation facility in North America. Prior studies have included habitat preference, nest-site fidelity, and nesting success.
- Bill and Martha Lovejoy Fellow and middle childhood education major Carly Koontz ’24 is focusing her studies on language arts and sciences. "The Lovejoy Fellowship was perfect for me," Carly said. "I plan to teach science and English after I graduate, and I wanted to have a hands-on scientific research experience. Our work focused on completing bird point counts every morning – the native population of sparrows is at risk because invasive plant species are taking over the open grasses where the birds nest. We also had the opportunity to tour The Wilds and encounter other species of animals they are protecting." Carly is a member of the varsity bowling team, Delta Gamma Theta, and Beta Beta Beta.
- Muskie Research Fellow Haley Maksin ’25 is majoring in Animal Studies and Conservation. "As a Muskie Research Fellow, I was able to experience field research and explore the possibilities for a career with a conservation reserve such as The Wilds. I loved working outside in the field and seeing first-hand how our research can make a difference. I’m excited that our work will extend into the academic year as well. Now that we have finished gathering our data, we are working on abstracts and posters to present our research, both on campus and to the Ohio Academy of Science." Outside of the classroom, Haley is active in Beta Beta Beta and the Christian Fellowship.
- Animal Studies major and Homer A. Anderson Fellow Lexi Sharb ’25 is exploring a career in animal caretaking or continuing with studies of birds after graduating from Muskingum. She is looking forward to activities this fall with Beta Beta Beta and the Animal Connections Club.
- Conservation Fellow Billy Kline ’23 is a Health and Fitness major and active in Beta Beta Beta. After Muskingum, he plans to attend graduate school for Physical Therapy.
Three Muskie Research Fellows are completing individual projects with their faculty partners.
- Chloe Joseph ’23 is majoring in General Engineering with minors in Mathematics and Physics. She is working with Associate Professor of Physics Richard Taylor on Transient Heat Conduction in a Heat Fin – A Computational Study. "Our project is based on an American Journal of Physics article that used a mathematical model to describe heat conduction in a heat fin – a surface used to advance heat transfer processes and prevent overheating in many mechanical engineering applications," Chloe explains. "The mathematical model yielded some unexpected results, which may have been due to embedded simplifications and assumptions. The goal of our project is to solve that mystery by developing a computational model that can produce more refined predications. We are using the Python programming language to create our model and we will also reproduce the physical experiment and compare results. I’m interested in pursuing Mechanical or Environmental Engineering, and it has been a great experience for me to work on a solution to a challenging problem that is relevant to those fields. I’m learning so much and broadening my skill set in ways that will benefit me whether I pursue advanced studies or join the workforce after graduation."
Chloe is a mathematics and physics tutor, and she is active in the honorary societies Lambda Sigma, Omicron Delta Kappa, and Kappa Mu Epsilon, as well as the Limestone Valley Lions Club.
- Computer Science major and Muskie Research Fellow Shane Iams ’24 is partnering with Assistant Professor of Computer Science Alisa Neeman and Associate Professor of Political Science Richard Arnold on Scrape the Scrapable Things: Preparing Big Data.
"Dr. Arnold is researching the Cossacks, focusing on their youth organizations and schools," Shane explains. "We identify websites with relevant information, our web scraper collects their news pages, and the article content is placed into a database, which can then be searched for keywords. Our database currently has information from 50,000 articles. By automating this aspect of the research process, Dr. Arnold can quickly and easily access a great variety of sources and information.
"As we continue with the project, we will keep refining the search capabilities of our database, using natural language processing and machine learning. This experience has been a great opportunity for me – in the future, I would like to continue working with big data and applying my computer science skills to epidemiology or other biomedical research areas."
- History major Breanna Benda ’23 is using her Summer 2022 Muskie Research Fellowship to build on her academic year work with Director of the Library Nainsí Houston and Reference & Instruction Librarian Rachael Acheson. Under their guidance, Bre’s focus is on Digitization and Digital Publication of “The Muscoljuan” yearbooks. Read more about her project in a recent article on expanding access to the Social and Historical Muskingum University Archives.