He won’t stop there, however. Benoit is also scheduled to travel to Antarctica for four weeks next January, thanks to a grant from the National Science Foundation, to research how two types of insects, a tick and a midge, survive winter while encapsulated in ice. Results from the study could be used to help reduce populations of pestiferous insects.
As an undergraduate, the Fairfield, Ohio, native spent nearly 40 hours a week conducting research on ticks, with an emphasis on preventing Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted fever, for Wittenberg’s biology department. But Benoit’s interest for studying science didn’t emerge until he came to Wittenberg.
“Until high school, I really despised all aspects of [science],” he said. “Once I started research in college I actually began to enjoy biology and chemistry.”
Benoit, a biochemistry major, came to Wittenberg with the intent to play linebacker for the perennial powerhouse football team. However, when he tore his Achilles tendon after his freshman year, his attention switched from the football field to the biology lab, where he immersed himself in a world of scientific research. He served as a faculty aide and conducted several independent projects for the biology department.
“Research was the only reason I stayed in school,” said Benoit, who was named a 2005 American Biographical Institute, Inc. Man of the Year. “I enjoyed the freedom that research allowed to make up new ideas. Anybody can collect data, but interpreting the results is where you can be creative.”
A dean’s list student throughout his undergraduate career, Benoit was also a head tutor in the Math Workshop, where he assisted students with math and math-related courses. Student tutors are certified by the College Reading and Learning Association (CRLA).
Benoit is a member of numerous national honorary societies, including the American Institute of Biological Sciences, and the National Scholars Honor Society and a full member of Sigma Xi, a research-based honorary that requires two first-authored peer-reviewed publications and two recommendations from current members to be inducted. He also served as the president for Wittenberg’s chapter of Mortar Board, a national senior honorary society.
In 2004, Benoit was recognized by the International Journal of Acarology during Ohio State’s Acarology Summer Program. Throughout his time at Wittenberg, he was awarded nearly $20,000 in research grants for various projects focused on ticks and fungus, including the biological control of ticks with genetically-improved pathogenic fungi.
Benoit’s research efforts have been published in national and international scientific journals, with more than a dozen academic papers for the biology department and over 50 presentations at a variety of scientific research meetings.
While Benoit is taking his research to another level, he said his experience as an undergraduate has prepared him for graduate school.
“The biggest thing Wittenberg did to provide for my future was to give me a good education in a variety of fields and provided a good community where I could learn,” he said.
- Sarah Gearhart '06
Send a Message
• Book-Delivering Prof Named Ohio Professor of the Year
• Senior Class Selects Livestrong President & CEO Doug Ulman As 2011 Commencement Speaker
•Communication Program Honored Nationally With Top Award
• Wittenberg University Art Students Finalists For Scholarship Award