Swimmer Talks Summer Research

Jake Beidler in the greenhouse

Outdoor science learning in high school sparked an interest that led senior swimmer Jake Beidler to pursue a career in environmental science.

“The course teacher, Ronda Sowers, made learning about the environment rewarding and fun. The class time we spent outdoors was my first experience performing science outside, and that made me realize it was something I would enjoy doing in the future. This is one of the main reasons I believe environmental education is so important, especially for younger people with little to no background in environmental science,” said Beidler.

To further explore their studies in environmental science, Beidler interned with the Multiple Element Limitations in Northern Hardwood Ecosystems (MELNHE) project in Syracuse, N.Y., this past summer. MELNHE is the longest-running, full-factorial nitrogen by phosphorus fertilization study in temperate forests.

Beidler’s project focused on using ArcGIS and tree locations to determine what the resource competition on the forest floor looks like. The project specifically looked at the competition between trees. Beidler did this by using a competition index equation and mapping it over experimental plots.

Beidler’s LVC education extensively prepared them for their internship, especially the Geographic Information Systems course that provided essential familiarity with this industry-standard software.

Along with environmental science courses, Beidler explains how they’ve expanded their knowledge through collaboration in research in and out of the classroom by working on group and individual projects. Beidler also credits much of their success to their academic advisor, Dr. Rebecca Urban, director of environmental science and professor of biology.

“I honestly feel so lucky to have Dr. Urban as an academic and research advisor. Dr. Urban was very integral in shaping my concept of scientific research and has continued to encourage my pursuit of environmental understanding and competence.”

Beidler also is grateful for Mary Gardner, head swim coach, who has enabled them to balance being a student and an athlete at LVC.

“[Gardner] is incredibly understanding of people’s time and other obligations as student-athletes. She will encourage you in whatever you do, making it easy not to feel like going to swimming is a chore. Practice is always a choice, and it’s always fun,” said Beidler.

Beidler enjoys many extracurricular activities, including theater, choir, and various clubs. This is one of the reasons they came to LVC.

“In high school, I was very involved—being a member of several athletic teams, clubs, bands, choirs, and theater productions,” said Beidler. “I wanted to continue many of these endeavors in college, and LVC not only offers these experiences but also actively encourages them.”

Jordan Walter ’24, Athletic Communications Intern

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