Hello University of Tampa! My time in Oxford so far has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Though I have only been in Oxford for a little over two months, this city is one of my favorite places!
One of my favorite things about my experience at Oxford is the ability to focus on two subjects of my choosing. My two tutorials are Abortion Laws in the EU and UK and the Philosophy of Tolkien. The tutorial system has proven to be my favorite way of learning and I have truly learned so much throughout my term here. I have been so fortunate that my tutors have been some of the most remarkable people I have gotten the chance to work with. They truly have taught me so much and they have challenged me weekly. In effect, I leave all my tutorials super motivated and my writing skills have definitely improved! I have also been super fortunate that for one of my tutorials I have gotten to go on mini “field trips”. I have been able to look at medieval manuscripts as well as women’s rights archives!
Besides spending time in various libraries working on my tutorials, I have spent a lot of time exploring Oxford! Some of my favorite places include Port Meadow and Christ Church Meadow. I love walking here and getting to see cows and horses up close! It’s a good brain break in between reading and writing! I also love trying all the different restaurants in Oxford and exploring all the cute shops and bookshops. The Oxford Study Abroad Program also has provided four trips throughout the term: London, Bath, Cambridge, and Windsor. These have been great trips to explore other parts of England!
Overall, this has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life and I am truly so grateful for the UT Honors Program and everyone who supported me to get here!
I was fortunate to have the opportunity to present my summer REU research at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minoritized Students (ABRCMS) this month. My research was on analyzing the impact that New England oyster farms may have on the marine sediment microbial community. This was my first time attending a national conference, and it was also my first time winning an award for presenting! I learned about cool new research within my field and others, and I also got to meet with graduate recruiters from all over the nation. As I am in the process of applying for graduate schools, it was valuable to have the opportunity to network with the schools I’m applying to, as well as learn about the different programs at other schools. There were networking lunches and dinners where I was able to talk with other students and professionals in various fields. I also had the opportunity to attend various workshops that centered on professional and personal development. There were multiple speakers who were not only inspiring but also gave me insight into how to navigate my future in science.
Outside of all the benefits that ABRCMS offers for professional development, it also helped me feel seen as a minority student in science. Often, it’s difficult to think that you’re capable of achieving career milestones when it hasn’t been done before in your family, or you don’t see yourself represented in your field. Being able to be surrounded by other scientists who share similar backgrounds to me made me more confident that I can achieve my career goals, and it also made me feel like I was part of a bigger community outside of what I already knew. I made new friends who are not only passionate about science like I am, but they also have the same struggles and shared experiences that come with being a minority student. Being able to talk about our shared experiences was very meaningful to me and it made us all feel like we were seen. What was even more impactful was hearing from prominent professionals in our fields that they faced the same struggles and being able to see how they overcame them. As the only representative from UT, I was ecstatic that I won us an award! I was so happy to get UT’s name out there at such a large conference and represent UT in such a positive light. ABRCMS is a very welcoming conference with the goal of uplifting future scientists to their full potential and I am so lucky that I got to take part in it.
My journey of making it to ABRCMS is not one that I accomplished on my own. I first and foremost must thank my wonderful mentor Dr. Lauren Logsdon. I didn’t see myself as a scientist at all before I met her. Her confidence in me and her continued support of me both in the lab and outside of the lab has changed the trajectory in my development as a scientist and I don’t think I can ever thank her enough. I want to acknowledge the UT biology department and all my professors for being so supportive of me and my goals over the past few years. They have all created the foundation for my development in science. I also want to thank the UT honors program for supporting me to go to ABRCMS. ABRCMS has been one of the best experiences of my college career and none of it would have been possible without the UT honors program’s continued support of me and my endeavors.
Kelsey Little, recipient of the Timothy M. Smith Award, spoke about her myriad experiences exploring the beauty of Alaska’s landscapes, whose stories she chose to tell through a number of paintings she completed.
Kelsey shared that the award gave her the opportunity to reconnect with her older brother who has lived in Alaska for a number of years and who she had not seen for some time. Since he is also a pilot, Kelsey was able to accompany her brother on a number of plane voyages above the Alaskan wilderness, which allowed her to see the landscapes from a different vantage point.
Kelsey’s travels through Alaska took her through dense forests, pristine fjords, and steep cliffs. She also visited natural springs, museums showcasing indigenous art, as well as a stand of petrified pine trees known as Ghostwood Forest which resulted from saltwater that flooded a low lying area following an earthquake in 1964, de-leafing the trees while also preserving them. Experiences such as these were formative for Kelsey, who shared with Brian Smith (brother of Timothy Smith and pictured above) that she was able to develop a deeper sense of self and confidence as a result of this unique travel opportunity.