Creighton student Siobhan Stoll flew a drone high above a grassland at the Heron Haven Nature Center in Omaha recently. As an undergraduate studying environmental science and biology, Stoll is already engaging in important research with expert faculty-mentors, helping to make significant discoveries with a real-world impact.
Q. What is this research about?
A. We are practicing with drones today. Usually, our research involves the Nebraska Sandhills. In between the dunes there are interdunal lakes surrounded by wetlands, so we want to know how to use drone imagery to characterize how the Sandhills are changing with precipitation and temperature. I’m still learning a lot about how all the technology works, but it has been really interesting to learn how you use drones to perform ecological research.
Q. How has your Creighton undergraduate research experience been?
A. It’s been pretty cool. I got involved with Dr. (Mary Ann) Vinton’s research group at the end of last semester when we wrote a proposal. We got it funded, so we are working this summer. Creighton’s been great, because they really push undergraduate research. I wasn’t expecting that coming into college, but I’m glad I got involved in it.
Q. How difficult was it to get involved in undergraduate research?
A. It wasn’t difficult. It was more like, if you get to know your teacher then you can ask them about it—that’s what I found. There’s a lot of opportunity.
Q. Why is this research important?
A. The Nebraska Sandhills are a big piece of land that is not developed. Then they have an aquifer underneath them, so our research with the lakes can tell us what’s going on with the aquifer, which is really important for understanding how our water supply is being affected.
Q. Do you feel you are being prepared for your future?
A. Definitely. Whether grad school or going into the workforce, I’m being prepared. I’m currently pre-med, and I’ll probably end up going to grad school, whether it’s for medicine or something in biology, but I would like to tie in my environmental interests.