MSU Matters: Students join professor in Caribbean for ‘worthwhile’ research experience

Local News

WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — For two months, two MSU students went to see different parts of the world some have only dreamed about visiting.

In this month’s MSU Matters, Shatanya Clarke shows us how a research project in the nature island of the Caribbean expanded their world view.

“It was a great learning experience, but I also got to teach people a lot,” MSU student Chelsea Connor said. “And I got to share my culture.”

Connor is an aspiring biological illustrator who is one of two students who participated in a school-sponsored research project in Dominica this summer.

“Going on this research trip, I got to learn more about the native lizard on my island, the native anole, and I got to learn about the invasive one and how they interact with each other,” Connor said.

Associate professor of biology Charles Watson has been taking students on this trip, which is a partnership with Operation Wallacea, since 2016.

“By studying this kind of small microcosm, we can understand some things about how species interact,” Watson said.

They did and more, and Connor said one of the big takeaways for her was being able to network with scientists from various places such as the UK.

“It is very important as a researcher, as a scientist, that you know that there are things that always interconnect with your research,” Connor said. “You’re never going to be an expert in every single thing, so it’s important to have connections to know people who can help you along the way.”

Destiny Zinn, who never visited Dominica before this trip, said she agrees this allowed her to hone her skills as a researcher.

“This is like, you’re really getting into it, you’re learning as you go, really doing footwork and all that kind of stuff,” Zinn said. “I think that’s something that a classroom can’t teach you.”

Both Connor and Zinn encourage their peers to take advantage of this opportunity if it presents itself because the knowledge they gained makes it all worthwhile.

While these students were learning, they had the opportunity to teach kids on the island what they had discovered themselves.

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