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Communications:
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For immediate release
June 8, 2011

Contact: Lesley Fry at (419) 995-8671 or Pam Joseph at (419) 995-8284


Ohio State Lima students awarded undergraduate research fellowships

Two biology students at The Ohio State University at Lima have been awarded the Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology Summer Research Fellowships through the Undergraduate Research Office. Kristin Schafer of Harrod and Jacob Sawmiller of Wapakoneta will each receive $3,500 to conduct research under the guidance of Dr. Jackie Augustine, associate professor of biology at Ohio State Lima.

Professional and graduate schools are looking for undergraduate research experience from their applicants,” said Augustine. “This experience shows that students can synthesize information, evaluate alternative ideas, work independently and follow a large project through to completion. In general, it also gives students a better appreciation for the process of science and the many aspects that go into developing a focused research project.” Both Schafer and Sawmiller plan to apply to professional and graduate school upon receiving their bachelor’s degrees.

Schafer’s research will examine the seasonal variations in the song of male house wrens. In birds, male song is a major component of courtship display and mate attraction. Schafer will study how the song of male house wrens fluctuates throughout the breeding season, hypothesizing that the duration, number of songs per given time period, minimum frequency, and maximum frequency of male song will fluctuate very little throughout the breeding cycle as a result of the high likelihood of one or both members of a mated pair seeking mating opportunities outside of the pairing.

Sawmiller is studying the effect of habitat type on parental care of house wrens. Studies have shown that offspring with reduced parental care have a significantly higher mortality rate than those with sufficient parental care. For his research, Sawmiller will measure the rate at which parents in different habitats feed their offspring, proving that parents in disturbed areas will not find as much food as their undisturbed counterparts and will produce fewer, smaller offspring. He also predicts that feeding rates will be higher in the undisturbed area because of reduced pesticide use.

Shafer and Sawmiller will conduct their research in three habitats: the natural area on the Ohio State Lima campus, a golf course (Hawthorne Hills Country Club), and an urban area (Proctor & Gamble property and residential area to the west of P&G).

Fellowship awardees are expected to work 40 hours per week for ten weeks, complete an honor’s thesis and present at the Denman Undergraduate Research Forum on the Columbus campus the following spring. The monetary award allows students to concentrate on research rather than have to balance the demands of work and school with research. Fifty-three undergraduates were awarded fellowships throughout the entire University this year.

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Jacob Sawmiller Kristin Shafer