“The sight of the twinkling stars made a strong impression on us and led to discussions of astronomy. We would marvel at the sun as it came slowly toward the horizon and finally appeared in all of its splendor to bathe the Alps in a mystic rose.” -- Maurice Solovine on his relationship with Albert Einstein.
I came to Colgate interested in plants, not knowing much about how they worked or the first thing about how to research them. I was fortunate to find myself in Professor Eddie Watkins’ sporadically cluttered Fern Ecophysiology lab later my freshman year. He gave me the freedom to explore different research projects and the homely energy in the lab inspired an almost mad scientist in me, doing multiple experiments with ferns at a time, just for the love of seeing what would happen. I was hooked. Ever since, I haven’t looked back, so it was only natural to use my AMS funding to figure out a way to study ferns.
During my two months abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark, my AMS funds allowed me the opportunity to travel to a few other cities in Europe in pursuit of my research. In the time that I had, my funds allowed me to travel to Sweden, Norway, Prague, Belgium, and Hungary. I visited two cities in Sweden, Malmo and Stockholm, and one city in each of the rest. Throughout these two months, I was studying as a full-time student in Copenhagen, and conducted my research there as well. Due to my obligations to my studies, most of my travel took place on weekends. In each of these cities, I visited public libraries to obtain my sample from the books that were put on clear display.
For my AMS project I wanted to investigate storytelling in other countries. I found that some of the most important national narratives are found in memorials that commemorate important events and collective tragedies, which are defining moments in a country’s history. As an English major, I am interested in text-based storytelling, but I also appreciate the power of art, photographs, statues, and other modes of representation. I had the privilege to travel to four different countries with my study abroad program, Semester at Sea. While in Japan, Vietnam, Mauritius, and South Africa, I used my AMS funding to visit important sites such as commemorative museums and engage in interpersonal exchange where possible. Here is a brief summary of my key findings in each country.
Throughout my time at Colgate, I have spent hundreds of hours in McGregory Hall hunched over textbooks and class notes studying rigorous mathematical theories and models. Many of these models came from the minds of German mathematicians, and the city of Berlin is rooted in rich mathematical history. However, what the liberal arts background of Colgate has taught me, and through my experiences with other students on campus, is that there are social impacts and takeaways of even seemingly unrelated fields such as math. Combining my interests in math and how society can be impacted in surprising ways, I spent five days immersing myself in the city of Berlin and analyzed how math was underlying many societal aspects of the city.
For my AMS project, I explored the legendary Queen Mary 2 ship on its August 18th-August 25th voyage and its December 15th to 22nd voyage. On both voyages, I interviewed passengers and employees to learn more about why more people are choosing to travel on cruise ships. I asked a series of questions including who chooses to cruise, why specifically the Queen Mary 2, and who chooses to work on a cruise ship. I also compared the answers of summer and winter passengers to note any differences. By doing so, I hope to understand a little more about how cruise ships function as a business and why there is an uptick in the demand for cruise ships worldwide.
When we travel to a place, we leave with a certain fantasy about the place in our mind. Whether it be a picturesque landscape that one saw in a travel guide photo, the sound of the music of an artist from that place or a particular scene in a movie, what we were exposed to before travel constitutes our fantasies and expectations for the trip. Just before the trip I had taken one semester of Arabic. I found the language extremely fascinating, and I wanted to see and experience more in depth the culture that the language was living in. So in summer 2019, I went to Egypt for a 7-week intensive Arabic Program at Hedayet Institute located in Maadi, Cairo with the fantasy of learning Egyptian arabic while also exploring Egyptian culture.
After my semester abroad in Wollongong, Australia, where I took a course on nutrition, I spent two weeks of July 2019 immersing myself in the culture and geography of different regions in New Zealand. As an aspiring medical student from rural upstate NY, who had the opportunity to learn about nutrition both in and outside of the classroom in Australia, I was curious to learn about nutrition and wellness in one of the most geographically unique countries in the world.
“ Not all monasteries allow women inside all parts of the monastery.” 1
This quote comes from an interview I conducted on April 11, 2019, with a male member
of the Ladakh Buddhist Association in Leh, Ladakh, India. I was in Leh, Ladakh, in Northern
India during the month of April, 2019 with the chance to complete a research project on the
relationship between women and religion. During that month, I interviewed thirty-seven people,
most of them women, about the relationship between women and religion in Leh. I expected
them to give opinions on issues such as women religious (in this case, Buddhist nuns), the ways
that lay women practice Buddhism, religious education, and the effects of religion on a woman’s
understanding of self. Instead, almost everyone wanted to talk about the protector spirit temples
of Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries and women’s lack of access to them. Overall, my interview
participants were overwhelmed and angered that women were still not allowed to enter these
During the Tropical Ferns and Lycophytes course, I learned from experts in the field at La Selva Biological station and Las Cruces Biological station. A biology professor at Colgate University, professor Eddie Watkins and a Colgate Alumni, Weston Testo were helping to teach the class. The pictures above show a smattering of the amazing views and experiences that I had on the trip. I crossed skinny, winding roads and the Rio Sucio (the Dirty River). I climbed inside an ancient strangler fig tree. And I spent the majority of my waking hours thinking about and learning about ferns. We visited four different habitats with a variety of ferns at each site so as to learn nearly every genus of ferns in the American Tropics, nearing 100 genera by the end of the course. Each genus we learned to identify using their unique characteristics. Along with learning to identify tropical ferns, we learned the most effective methods for their further study, including how to study phylogenetics, physiology, hybridization networks, gametophyte morphology and breeding systems. For me, this was like being in heaven on earth, because I absolutely love thinking about this type of science.