Kate Draper is ready to try her hand in marine biology research this summer.
The East Central University freshman biology major and Ada resident will do a marine and estuarine science internship at the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore, June 5-Aug. 11, through the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program.
“This is a great opportunity to make connections for graduate school and help get the ECU name out there,” said Draper “I’m really excited for being able to work in both the field and lab and it will help me focus on what I want to do with my career.”
Draper applied online for the internship through the National Science Foundation. The internship is one of only 15-20 spots available through the Maryland institution as Dr. Alisha Howard, assistant professor of biology at ECU, helped guide Draper through the application process.
“This is great for Kate and East Central. She’ll be introduced to the competitive, intense drive that most scientists have. It will be amazing,” said Howard. “Doors will be opened for her to do more research, if she would like, here and her research experience will be good for ECU.”
Each research student will have a mentor during the summer internship, according to Draper.
“They were mostly looking for students that didn’t have easy access to the ocean. So, growing up in Oklahoma helped me get that internship,” Draper said.
About to complete her freshman year at ECU, Draper credits her ECU professors – Dr. Howard and Dr. Kenneth Andrews – in helping prepare her for this opportunity, one that doesn’t usually go to someone who is about to complete only their freshman year.
“Both have helped me cultivate my love for science,” said Draper. “They’ve shown me hard work ethic, how to do things correctly and, if I’m struggling, they’ll help you learn the material better.”
Draper says he love for biology began at Ada High School, under the tutelage of Kay Gamble, who is now a biotechnology instructor at the Pontotoc Technology Center in Ada.
With it being her first research experience, Draper says she is not sure what to anticipate, but thanks to the foundation laid through her high school and ECU freshman-year experience, has the confidence to make it an exciting and rewarding endeavor.
ECU’s College of Health and Sciences offers more than 19 degree programs in all aspects of natural, health and mathematical sciences. This college houses the department of biology, chemistry, environmental sciences, family and consumer science, mathematics, computer science, nursing and pre-professional. The programs enable students to gain knowledge and skills within each of these fields and become informed citizens that can effectively serve society as teachers, research specialists, medical professionals, inventors, computer programmers and numerous other professionals.