By: Kimberly Miller
Warren Wilson College students have the unique opportunity to truly explore their interests in the sciences as undergraduates. The Natural Science Seminar allows students to do hands on research with a knowledgeable mentor and present their findings to peers, professors, and scientific organizations. Research at Warren Wilson College is a fairly recent addition to the undergraduate curriculum, replacing the library research that was at one time the status quo for science majors
The conference is March 24-26 at Bennett College, Greensboro. Studentswill attend the conference and do a presentation on the findings of theresearch they did for their Natural Science Seminar. The students thatare attending the conference are the following: Amos Little, KatherineKennedy, Tessa Branson, Julia York, Amanda Davis, and Stacey Hollis.
Amos Little - Herbicidal effects of Ailanthus altissima extractson native and non-native invasive plants. Mentor: Dr.MichaelTorres.
Tessa Branson - Evaluationof Vitamin B-12 Deficiency inVegans vs. non-vegans on Warren Wilson College Campus. Mentor: Dr. Victoria P. Collins.
Kat Kennedy - Serum Mineral Levels inPiglets on the Warren Wilson College Farm. Mentor: Dr.Jeff Holmes
Amanda Davis - Water QualityAssessment of the Swannanoa River using Macroinvertebrates. Mentor: Dr. Lou Weber
Stacey Hollis - Heavy Metals in TernPrey. Mentor: Dr. John Brock
Natural Science Seminars
30 years ago, the Warren Wilson College biology department conducted seminars where students researched textbooks and presented
their findings. There were no experiments by which a student could find his/her own results on a given topic.
The Biology department, 30 years ago, had a seminar where students didbook research and not experiments. In the early 80s a division of NaturalSciences expanded to include chemistry and physics. Seminars were stillmostly literature based. Lee swinson, Bill Davis, Sid Craig, VickieCollins, Don Collins, and Dean Kahl pushed for experimental research. Abig change occurred in how the seminars were conducted, became experimentbased. This change enhanced the scientific value of student projects.
The research is busy and intensive, but the lesson learned sticks withthose who complete the seminar. “Getting results and even experiencingfailure.”
Don Collins publishes student abstracts online at the NSS website. Eachyear, people write to the Science Department asking for more informationon an abstract they’ve seen on the web page while doing Internet research.The research is also archived in the Pew Elisson Library on Warren Wilsoncampus.
“We often re-assure the student that they are the most knowledgeableperson in the room on their topic, to keep them from getting nervous.”
Many NSS students also present at the North Carolina Academy of Sciences,where they have historically received many awards. Collins hopes studentsattend the National Conference of Undergrad Research, which will be heldin Asheville this year.Those winning at the NCAS are also expected to publish their findings inthe Elijah Mitchell journal. Students have also received Yarborough grantsin the past to help defray the cost of the study.