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Student Summer Research Abroad
08.28.13 |
While LVC’s formal study abroad programs offer excellent opportunities for students to explore other countries and cultures, the College’s many international faculty-student research collaborations provide unique opportunities as well.

Psychobiology major Rachel Denny ’14 says she leapt at the opportunity to travel to Hungary in the summer of 2013 to work on a research project with Dr. Tim Peelen, associate professor of chemistry. “It was such an amazing opportunity that I had to say yes,” she says. “I love traveling, seeing new things, and experiencing different cultures.” She especially enjoyed attending a conference in the Hungarian town of Balaton—“Going to a chemistry conference in mostly Hungarian was really interesting,” she said—and experiencing the various festivals and other activities of a vibrant European city. Denny found herself especially challenged by the language, though she quickly learned enough to get by. She faces a significantly lower language barrier this fall, however, during a semester-long study-abroad experience in London. Denny plans to pursue a doctorate in pharmacology after graduation this spring.

Biology major and chemistry minor Tai Nguyen ’14 traveled to Hungary with Denny to participate in a separate research project with Peelen. “I didn’t want to pass up an opportunity to work with Dr. Peelen, work overseas, and just take on a new experience,” he says. Like Denny, Nguyen found living in Hungary both challenging and exciting. “It wasn’t like anything I was expecting,” he says. “It was great to open up my curiosity—around every corner was a new adventure.” Nguyen has his sights set on dental school after graduation this spring.

Not all LVC students who participate in research abroad do so in association with LVC faculty. Biology major Cameron Venable ’14 (pictured at right) took part in a research project last summer in Puerto Rico in partnership with faculty and students from Texas A&M University. Thanks to support from an Arnold Grant for Experiential Learning, Venable was able to travel to Puerto Rico to spend two months mapping the population of the common ground lizard. “We hope to develop a map of different sites that shows the population densities, and then infer the areas that have higher predation or more competition for resources,” he explains.

Venable, who carries a minor in Spanish, was happy also to be able to experience a Spanish-speaking culture first-hand. “I was really able put what I’ve learned in my Spanish classes to the test,” he says, adding that his background in Spanish equipped him to serve as a translator for the group.

Venable is also looking toward graduation this spring. “This research opportunity has been a good place to find where I belong in the science field,” he says. “And since we’re meeting a lot of other researchers and managers, it’s been a place to make good connections in my future career path.”

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