Emily Churness, BS’22, spent an afternoon in early May wading through a pond in search of horsehair worm parasites, part of an undergraduate research project. Now a recent alumna applying to medical school, Churness has an edge over her peers thanks to her undergraduate research experience. Working alongside expert faculty-mentors, Bluejays are making discoveries that set them on the path to success.
Q. Where are you from?
A. Eagan, Minnesota. I’m majoring in Biology, Class of ’22.
Q. What are you doing here, today?
A. We are doing field research, collecting data to determine if the agricultural industry is impacting biodiversity, and we’re looking at aquatic insects to get that data.
Q. Why is research important to you?
A. Because it helps propel me into my future career, hopefully medical school and becoming a physician. I know it seems weird—why are you collecting insects if you're going to be a doctor? But there's a lot that goes into research that helps with med school.
Q. Other than the impact on your future, what is the importance of this research?
A. It demonstrates that human action impacts all walks of life, even aquatic insects that you would never think of. It holds us responsible.
Q. Are you gaining skills by doing this?
A. Yeah, I think it's given me skills that I probably wouldn't have had. Sorting things, for example. We sorted all the insects down to order, genus and family, and they're tiny, so you have to develop a precise eye when it comes to that.
Q. Would you recommend research to incoming students?
A. I would advocate getting started with research early, because then you get to do it for more years than just one. I got into it pretty late, but I blame that on COVID. But yes, just look up your professor, look up what they research and then email them. The worst they can say is no. So, definitely, reach out and see.