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Teaching Evolution to Students with Compromised Backgrounds & Lack of Confidence About Evolution - Is it Possible?

Alexandria Schauer - Minnesota

V:50 I:4 Cases/Abstracts Honorable Mention


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Teaching Evolution to Students with Compromised Backgrounds & Lack of Confidence About Evolution - Is it Possible?



Students regard evolutionary theory differently than science in general. Students’ reported confidence in their ability to understand science in general (e.g., posing scientific questions, interpreting tables and graphs, and understanding the content of their biology course) significantly outweighed their confidence in understanding evolution. We also show that those students with little incoming confidence in their understanding of evolution demonstrated more confidence and the most improved performance by the end of the semester. Collectively, our data indicate that regardless of prior experiences with evolution education, and in spite of myriad social challenges to teaching evolution, students can learn evolution. 


Pretty Fly (For a Lab Guy)

Rosalie Ierardi - Illinois

V:50 I:4 Creative Corner Winner


Click Here for the audio version!!!

Pretty Fly (For a Lab Guy)!


"Pretty Fly (For a Lab Guy)", by Rosalie Ierardi, 2015

Parody of "Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)", by The Offspring, 1998


send it to me, baby (uh huh uh huh)

send it to me, baby (uh huh uh huh)

send it to me, baby (uh huh uh huh)

and all the doctors think I'm pretty fly ... for a lab guy


la influenza A hache cinco ene dos (influenza A H5N2)


you've heard about diseases

you've seen them in the news

the microscopic battles that we can't afford to lose

before you pick a treatment

you'd better get it right

you want a diagnosis?

we'll help you win the the fight


you'll be feeling swell / in the VDL

when you're finding viral plaques in microtiter wells

see them replicate / right there on your plate

with DNA / with DNA

finding serovars / running PCRs

just make sure that you don't breathe it or you might come down with SARS

the world needs virology

so hey! hey! use that thinky thing!


send it to me, baby (uh huh uh huh)

Click to read more ...


Kestrel Boxes, or Why I Continue To Choose Experience: A First Year Story

Nikki Becich - Tufts

V:50 I:4 Experiences Honorable Mention



Everyone’s been there.

You’re stressed out on a regular Thursday afternoon. You have exactly 217 textbook pages you’d like to review before you even -look- at the end-chapter review questions you KNOW are going to be on the written part of the exam. You haven’t slept much because you’re on call for Large or Small animal tech team, or you got up early for baby care team at the Wildlife Clinic, and you went to those dinner talks and learned about Veterinarians in the Army, got your VBMA credits, and now you’re here. The exam is tomorrow. Your undergraduate A-complex conscience is chewing you out for your irresponsible behavior and irreverence of the educational system you’re paying for the privilege of being a part of…

And you get an email.

The State Ornithologist is on campus, and we know you love birds! Would you have time to walk campus with him while he stakes out the best location to place Kestrel nest boxes…for an hour or two? Just an hour or two.

You may not have pulled that A, or even that B, in this class’s last exam. You could get through a decent amount of material in these next few hours. You aren’t struggling with the material, though. Your grades are fine. Not exceptional, but fine. What do you say?

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The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Corton

Lindsay Oksenburg - St. George's University

V:50 I:4 Creative Corner Honorable Mention




Emma Svenson - Wisconsin-Madison

V:50 I:4 Experiences Honorable Mention


     Sleek grey shapes cartwheeled through the water in an ocean arabesque. I crouched motionless by the pool until one little ball of fur drew near. Then I pounced. I grabbed for the back flipper of pup 39. With a snap, her teeth closed on my sweatshirt, narrowly missing skin. I hauled back, dragging her into a temporary pen. I sighed and contemplated the iron grip on my sleeve. “They didn’t talk about this in the manual,” I muttered as I pried open her jaw. Why, why, had I volunteered to help drain pus from the infected ear of a homicidal harbor seal? 

#39 looking adorable - photo credit to my fellow intern Evan NiewoehnerI was spending my summer at the University of New England Biddeford’s Marine Animal Rehabilitation Center (MARC), authorized by the National Marines Fisheries Service to rehabilitate stranded marine mammals and sea turtles. At MARC, 39’s irascibility was legend. But despite her unlovable nature, this pup convinced me to become a veterinarian, though my interest in the field began long before I met her.

My passion for veterinary medicine first sparked as a child, awestruck at thoroughbreds sprinting down Keeneland racetrack. I was a classic horse-obsessed girl, happy in a barn, whether mucking stalls, riding, or watching veterinarians. But love of horses alone did not persuade me to be a vet. 

Nor, for a while, was vet medicine first on my list of potential careers. After my sophomore year in high school, I volunteered to translate Spanish for a team of doctors and medical students in Guatemala. Driving over rough mountain roads to help deliver healthcare, I learned about social determinants of heath. In clinics made of sheet metal and prayers, I was drawn to human medicine; I wanted to be a doctor.  

BFFStill, doubt dogged me, for dreams do not die easily. In college, I steered a middle passage between vet and human medicine. I began working hard to earn three majors and two minors, hoping a well-rounded mind would be an asset to any type of medicine. I joined a pre-med club and rode on UW’s equestrian team, still straddling two professions. 

On my quest to choose, I became an intern at MARC, responsible for the medical well being of our charges. My days were spent hosing down enclosures, tube feeding the youngest pups, running water quality tests, transitioning pups to eating fish, analyzing blood work, helping organize releases, and more. Each night I stank of fish and feces, yet my biggest problem was 39. Despite her small size, a suspected spinal cord injury, and an infection worming its way through her ears, 39 zoomed around pool and pen, terrorizing all. Some shied from her ferocity, but I admired her tenacity to live. I made her my special charge, entering a battle of wills she usually won.  

Watching the sunset from my backyard in Maine.After my return to Madison, sad news of 39 finally convinced me to be a vet: my fiery charge was dead, euthanized because her ear infection could not be controlled. I felt as if I had failed at my job to make her healthy. And I never wanted to feel that way again. I am not naïve, and know I can’t heal all animals. But in that moment, I decided that I want to have the clinical skills to try to help even those gruff as 39. I decided to become a veterinarian. Someday, I hope to work with wildlife – especially marine animals. 

This year, I am a first year veterinary student at UW- Madison. The hours are long, the work is tough, and it’s sometimes hard to remember why I’m torturing myself with twelve classes and endless hours of studying. When the workload gets to be too much, I think back on my experience at MARC. I remember the pup that refused to give up on life, right to the very end. And I remember why I’m becoming a veterinarian.