Hello everyone! My name is Lily Uttecht, and I am a senior biology major here at Bay Path. This past summer, I had the privilege of participating in the Integrative Marine Biology REU Program at UMASS Dartmouth here in Massachusetts. REU programs are paid internships that are funded by the National Science Foundation.
I am very lucky to have gotten this internship experience, and I feel as though I have greatly benefited from it on multiple levels. Firstly, as I live in the area, I am a commuter here at Bay Path, so I have not yet experienced living away from home. This summer, I got to live in a four-person apartment-style dorm on the UMASS Dartmouth campus, all expenses paid. I made great connections with my three roommates, and we are already planning a reunion meetup! I also bonded with the other people in the program, and I am thankful that our group of 10 students was so compatible.
Not only did I have a great time socially, but it was also very intellectually stimulating. I got to work in the lab with Dr. Kathryn Kavanagh on a wildlife diversity sampling project. Every other week for the 10 week period, I would go out two days in a row at different times of the day based on the tides, and collect small baitfish species. We did this via a process called “seining” where a large net is dragged vertically through shallow water along the shore, and any fish caught are collected in a bag at the center of the net.
We conducted our research in five different estuarine locations around North Dartmouth Massachusetts. It was my job not only to catch the fish but also to identify and count them all. We counted over 12,000 fish! I also got the chance to work with representatives from the Lloyd Center for the Environment in Dartmouth, and I learned a lot about interacting with and protecting local species while I was with them.
At the end of the 10 weeks, each of us students got to create and present a scientific poster at a symposium on campus. This was a very fulfilling experience, and I was proud of not only myself but all of the other students as well. I was thankful to have already had poster-making and presenting experience under my belt from Bay Path.
Additionally, during the week of October 15th, I attended the National Meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology in New Mexico to present my honors thesis poster with own very own Dr. Gina Semprebon. I am extremely honored to be working with her, and I am very excited to be attending my first conference! Bay Path is truly unique and special with its undergraduate research project opportunities, and I encourage anyone reading this to do their own if they are able to!