Biology Students Research in Saipan
Roger Brown | University Relations | 19 August 2011
If given the chance to travel to an island in the South Pacific, most would immediately think of it as a vacation. For students majoring in biology, however, it was anything but a holiday.
From July 2-22, 12 marine biology research students traveled to the island of Saipan, part of the United States Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Far from a leisure vacation, students filled their days studying various forms of marine life off the coast of Saipan.
Mentored research at BYU–Hawaii has helped establish a notable track record of graduate and career placement, especially in the College of Math and Science where the biology department is located. The trip to Saipan was such an opportunity.
Accompanied by Dr. Roger Goodwill, the students spent their mornings in the water, scuba diving, snorkeling or surveying the shore for specimens to collect and study. The afternoons were spent in the lab studying the collected specimens and identifying them. Through their study, they are able to assess populations and distributions of the various animals in the waters surrounding the island.
"We had a great opportunity to learn about the marine environment in Saipan through taking part in these field studies. It was very beneficial to those student on the trip who plan on continuing on in biology past their bachelors degrees. Many graduate programs prefer students who have already taken part in conducting research," said Lauren Fielding, a senior in pre-professional biology.
Real-world experience is crucial in these fields of study, as many graduate programs require research experience as a prerequisite. Several students were able to complete their senior projects while on the trip, meeting the requirements for their majors. Opportunities like this provide great experience in their chosen field for these students, and much of it is made possible by the dedicated professors in their departments. Dr. Goodwill has made many research trips to the Mariana Islands, and has ties in Saipan which makes it possible for them to arrive, acquire permits, and begin their study with almost no delay.
Fielding observed, "There is still so much to be explored and often, people simply do not get the chance to go to the places where the discoveries can be made, but we are very blessed to have such dedicated professors and a wonderful university that make it possible for us to do this."