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20130319sarah_wyss_bws-00222

Sarah Wyss

  • Wrote an undergraduate thesis
  • National Science Foundation Fellowship recipient
  • Favorite TV show: Doctor Who

Cellular and molecular biology major, chemistry minor

Honors Tutorial College

Hometown: Albuquerque, New Mexico

What is Honors Tutorial College?

The Honors Tutorial College is a really unique opportunity for students who want to study something more in-depth than they would find in a traditional classroom setting. It's an opportunity to work one-on-one with a professor each semester to design a course which delves into a specific topic. It's also allowed me an opportunity to work in a lab each semester. I wanted to be involved in research starting early in college, and to learn at a much deeper level than I could find in normal undergraduate classes, so the tutorial system was perfect for me!

What’s your thesis topic?

I'm growing algae with bacteria, genetically modifying the bacteria so that the algae is better at producing biofuels.

How are the professors?

Once you get over the initial, "They're a professor, I can't talk to them" kind of mindset, they're really nice people. The professors here are willing to meet students, are very open, and are very passionate about their subject and their research.

You’re a Supplemental Instruction (SI) instructor. What’s that?

SI is not tutoring. It's a group study session that is on the material from class. SI is available to all students for free in certain intro courses–all the chemistry, biology, economics, etc. I put together a worksheet that covers material from class. The goal is that the students can come to the study session, ask questions and help each other find the answers. I lead it, but it's really a peer learning study group. I lead the BIOS 1700 series, the introductory biology majors courses. My freshman year I did really well in the entire series. I had the same professor for the first two courses and she e-mailed me and said, "How would you like to be an instructor for this SI class?" So I've been doing it for two whole years now. I get paid to do it.

What do you do to unwind?

Freshman year I was in the Duello Fencing Club, which is Renaissance-style fencing with swords, cloaks, and daggers. Stabbing people is a great stress reliever. I also do microbiology in the kitchen: Using yeast and bacteria, I make my own yogurt, bread, wine, cheese, and tempeh.

Speaking of food, how’s the dining hall food?

I've started to appreciate the dining halls a lot more now that I live off campus. I still have a meal plan, the basic 30 meals a semester. It's good food. There's a lot of variety, there are a lot of vegetarian options.

What are your future goals?

Since coming here, I've really developed passion for serving those who are in need, in poverty, and finding solutions through science to kind of bring them up out of poverty. My campus ministry went down to Haiti a year and a half ago and we really got to see poverty and figure out what is it that these people really need. So that kind of gave me my vision.

Has OHIO prepared you to reach your goals?

Ohio University has really been instrumental in molding me into the person that can go forth and do great things.

“I wanted to be involved in research starting early in college, and to learn at a much deeper level than I could find in normal undergraduate classes, so the tutorial system was perfect for me!”

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