Jasmin Graham came to the College with a strong interest in marine wildlife conservation. Right away, she saw the opportunity to get involved in hands-on research and she jumped at it. Since then, she’s been examining the evolutionary history of hammerhead sharks while preparing for what promises to be a bright future in marine biology.
“The marine biology program here is very keen to have students participate in research early in their college careers,” she says. “So, my first semester here, I went to the research matchmaking day that the department puts on and met several professors. One of them talked with me at length. He didn’t have room for me in his lab that semester, but he told me to stay in touch. I did, and that led to me working with him as an undergraduate researcher the following summer.”
Jasmin not only spent that summer researching, but she received a grant through the Summer Undergraduate Research Funding (SURF) program that enabled her to continue her research the next summer, too.
“During the first summer, I used anatomical data to trace the evolutionary history of hammerhead sharks in our lab. I was actually nominated by a professor to present that research at a national conference, so I went to Arlington, Va., to do that. Then, during the second summer, I looked at the same topic, but used molecular data by employing a technique that my professor had developed in the lab.”
Jasmin particularly appreciates the lab environment in this program. “From the professor to the lab manager to the students, there is an open dialogue and exchange of ideas, as well as a willingness to try new approaches.
And, she says, doing research so early in her college career made her more capable. “It was easier to absorb the material I studied in the classes that I took later on. That’s one of many tremendous advantages that this program offers.