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Grants Gives Undergrads a Sample of Graduate School
By Jenny Bjelland
UW-RF News Bureau
JAN. 28, 2005--Four University of Wisconsin-River Falls undergraduate
students received the chance to spend 10 weeks working with a research
university of their choice this past summer.
The experience was the result of a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture
to the UW-RF College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences with
the purpose of familiarizing students with the graduate school setting.
Students are selected to participate based on their interest in graduate
school and their academic work along with recommendations from their academic
The four UW-RF students involved during summer 2004 include Nick Vreeland,
a senior geology major from Rice Lake, Wis., Andrew Mizgalski, a senior
horticulture major from Wausau, Wis., Tammy Golat, a senior animal science
major with an equine management option from Bruce, Wis., and Elsa Arnold,
a senior double-major in agricultural business and music from Caledonia,
Six more students will be chosen to participate during summer 2005.
Nick Vreeland took this grant opportunity to further his study of geology
and his interest in glaciers. Vreeland's geology professor and academic
advisor, Bob Baker, helped steer him toward Iowa State University where
Vreeland worked with a doctorate student and faculty members. Together
they collected about 1,500 glacial till samples from a quarry in Illinois.
The samples were then taken to the University of Minnesota, where Vreeland
helped to test and analyze the samples. According to Vreeland, he was
testing the magnetic susceptibility of the samples which showed the direction
the till grains were aligned in and thus the direction the glacier was
Andrew Mizgalski highly recommended his experience at Cornell University
"I met a lot of people within the horticulture field, which I think
is really valuable," he said.
Mizgalski had the opportunity to work at both Cornell's Ithaca, N.Y. campus
and the Long Island Horticultural Research Laboratory in Riverhead, N.Y.
He was involved in a variety of studies including examining breeding programs
for cut flowers, evaluating perennial plants, studying fruit and vegetable
diseases, and analyzing planting depth effects on bulb crops.
Through the influence of UW-RF animal science Professor Gary Onan, senior
Tammy Golat spent her summer in the genetics lab at the University of
Minnesota. Her interest in the horse industry grew as she worked with
a graduate student studying thoroughbred horses with recurrent exertional
rhabdomyolysis. The disease occurs within 5 percent of all thoroughbreds
and leads to tying-up following an exercise period. Golat examined horse
pedigrees along with blood and DNA samples of more than 1,000 horses.
She also examined and compared the DNA sequences of dogs with and without
a disease called hyperekplexia, which can lead to seizures. The goal was
to locate possible locations of genes that cause the disease.
Golat said she thoroughly enjoyed "the aspect of being behind the
scene doing the testing and all the work that goes into determining if
the animal has the disease." She has a new appreciation for the occupation
as well. "There is a lot more lab work than people realize,"
Elsa Arnold traveled to Michigan State where her main project was to conduct
a feasibility study on a regional anaerobic digester, which would provide
heat and electricity for a greenhouse operation. Arnold researched the
engineering aspects of the digester, compared it to other similar machines,
ensured that the digester covered all government and environmental policies,
and determined if it would work from a biosecurity perspective.
Each of the four participants highly recommended this opportunity. The
program showed the research in which current graduate students are involved,
helped the students develop connections within their industries, and gave
the students a real introduction to the graduate school setting.
Tuesday, 22-Jun-2010 16:21:19 Central Daylight Time