Stone Lab Student Spotlight: Katie Steirwalt

Major: Environmental ScienceStierwalt              Specialization: Water Science     Graduation: Fall 2016

Ohio State’s Stone Laboratory          Summer 2014                                     Click Here for More Info on Stone Lab

When I came to Ohio State as a freshman, I thought I knew the direction I was taking in my life. I knew I wanted to attend medical school but I was unsure of what major to choose. After some thought about my interests, like my love for the outdoors, I decided on Environmental Science. I learned about Stone Laboratory through the School of Environment and Natural Resources and decided to apply for their Research Experience for Undergraduates Program. I grew up near Lake Erie so I was very intrigued in studying the harmful algal blooms that have recently been plaguing the lake.

During my experience at Stone Lab, I stayed on Gibraltar Island, a small 6-acre island very close to South Bass Island in Lake Erie, with over 30 like-minded students. For five weeks, I alternated days between taking Ecology (EEOB 3410) and conducting research on harmful algal blooms with Dr. Justin Chaffin and Dr. Doug Kane. I wish every class I took were as hands on as my class at Stone Lab. Almost every day we got to go outside or go on an educational field trip. On my research days, I got an amazing firsthand experience at going out into the field to collect water samples, rain or shine. I was able to do a lot of work in the water quality lab using state of the art equipment. I learned that one of the most important parts of completing research is learning about research that has already been conducted. This involved lots of reading but I enjoyed every moment of it. Through my experience at Stone Lab, I learned more about myself than any other experience. I discovered that medical school wasn’t the best fit for me but that my true passion lies in studying and researching the environment. I am so grateful that my studies and experiences in SENR have helped guide me in my educational experience as well as provide a direction for my future career goals.

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