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Top two Commencement awards go to Biology majors

May 21, 2012

Biology majors Robert “Adam” Herbstomer and Meredith Meyers earned the college’s two top academic honors, the Argonaut Award for achieving the highest grade-point average and the Edith Farr Ridington Phi Beta Kappa Writing Award for the best Honors paper, respectively.

The winner of this year's Ridington Writing Award is “Living It Up Before Going Down: Vertical Positioning Behaviors of Homarus americanus Larvae in Response to a Thermocline,” by Meredith Meyers. Meredith is the daughter of Michael and Michelle Meyers of Manchester, Md.


Meredith Meyers (right)

Summer, lobsters and Cape Cod sound like criteria for a perfect holiday. But vacation was the last thing on the minds of Assistant Professor of Biology Molly Jacobs and her student collaborator Meredith Meyers during their eight weeks in the summer of 2011 at the prestigious Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts researching the swimming behavior of the young Homarus americanus – larval lobster. Preliminary findings show that larvae do respond to thermoclines by positioning themselves higher up in the water column toward warmer temperatures. And Meyers has already presented her poster at the meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology in Charleston, S.C., where it was very well-received.

The research involved long hours, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and then back for nighttime experiments from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m., and could be wet and dirty work.

“Meredith was a real trooper; she learned more about plumbing, construction, and knot-tying (all critically important skills for marine ecologists!) than she ever expected,” Jacobs says. “She has ended up with a truly impressive senior thesis project.”

A Biology major with a minor in Environmental Policy and Science, Meredith is considering graduate school in marine policy. But first, she’s headed for a two-week internship aboard the NOAA vessel Okeanos Explorer to participate in ocean floor mapping along the East Coast, from Virginia to Rhode Island. She leaves Norfolk, Va., on May 27 and disembarks in Rhode Island on June 13.

The Argonaut Award winner is Robert “Adam” Herbstomer, who earned a 4.101 grade point average in his entire completed course of study. Herbstomer completed a major in Biology and minor in Music in three years. He is the son of Charlotte and Robert Herbstomer of Finksburg, Md.


Robert "Adam" Herbstomer (right)

His advisor, Biology professor Susan Parrish, has been impressed with his curiosity and enthusiasm for science since they first met in Parrish’s first-year seminar, “Our Unseen Enemies: Emerging Viruses.”

It was a viewpoint that continued as student and professor met again in Molecular Biology and also Genomics.

“Adam stands out because of his intelligence, his passion for science and his motivation to learn,” Parrish says, adding that in Molecular Biology, he wrote, as required, his scientific grant proposal on a research question he designed, proposing to examine how gene expression changes in mice in response to cardiac ventricular hypertrophy, the enlargement of the lower chambers of the heart.

His course work, his internship in the transplant unit at the University of Maryland and his extraordinary skills in the laboratory will no doubt serve him well in his work in a Johns Hopkins Allergy and Clinical Immunology lab after graduation and his preparation to take the MCAT exams for medical school. The Finksburg, Md., resident hopes to one day become a pathologist.

Herbstomer is a member of the Beta Beta Beta National Biological Honors Society, the Alpha Lambda Delta First Year Student Honors Society and Beta Alpha Chi, the music honors society. A talented musician, he plays the French horn in the college’s concert band and is a member of several bell choirs.

 
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