June 8, 2007
By Anita Martin
Biology major Aiden Shearer will graduate from Ohio University's Honors Tutorial College on Saturday with hands-on research experience in five labs - three at the university, one at the University of Edinburgh (Scotland) and one through an internship at Cleveland's Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital.
"As a science student, HTC is cool because it gives you options in research," Shearer says. "Your freshman year you get to bounce around in different labs to figure out what you want to do." First-year biology students in HTC switch tutors about every three weeks, getting exposure each time to a different field of research.
Shearer recognizes and appreciates the risk that professors take in involving first-year students with their lab work. "You can really mess things up coming into a lab without previous training," he says. "But HTC students have a pretty good track record."
Shearer began his freshman year in a tutorial with Molly Morris, associate professor of biological sciences. To earn cash and experience, he began working in her lab, "just washing glassware and little things that undergrads do."
Before long, he was sequencing DNA, and by that June, Shearer attended the North American Behavior of Animals Conference, where he co-authored a presentation.
The next fall, he accompanied Morris' lab team to Mexico to continue his research, for which he won first place in the biology division at Ohio University's 2005 Research and Creative Activity Fair that following spring.
Biology students in the Honors Tutorial College can expect to complete four years worth of coursework, plus tutorials, in just three years. This intensive work leaves their entire senior year free for thesis development.
To research his thesis, Shearer assisted Anne Loucks, professor of biological sciences, with her study of the effects of diet and exercise on women's bone mass and reproductive health. In fact, Loucks and Shearer presented their work earlier this week at the Endocrine Society meeting in Toronto. (To learn more about their findings, go to http://news.research.ohiou.edu/news/index.php?item=384.)
"I really think that HTC provides an experience that you can't get anywhere else," Shearer says. "Being able to get to know professors so well, and for them to know you, it really kept me on track and opened opportunities."
In the fall, Shearer begins his studies at the University of Iowa College of Medicine on a full-tuition scholarship.