Not a bad way to start a collegiate career.
Hart became interested in biology when she took an environmental science class in high school, and after a canoe trip for a freshwater ecology lesson, she decided that biology was the right major for her. When looking for a college to pursue biology, Wittenberg was not originally at the top of her list. However, after a tour of Barbara Deer Kuss Science Center, Hart fell in love with Wittenberg and decided to make it her academic home for the next four years.
That love affair was strengthened during her first year at Wittenberg, as Hart made the most of research opportunities on different species of fiddler crabs. Hart quickly earned the respect of the biology faculty, including Associate Professor of Biology Matt Collier and Professor of Biology Jay Yoder.
"I knew that Chloe was interested in marine science, and when the fiddler crab project became a reality, I knew instantly who to ask for help," said Collier, Hart's academic adviser. "Dr. Yoder and I could not be more pleased with Chloe's work and how the fiddler crab paper turned out."
Hart's research, which is due to be printed in the January 2010 issue of Crustaceana, focused on three species of fiddler crabs: Uca minax, Uca pugilator and U pugnax. Through her research, which she also presented at the 2009 Butler University Undergraduate Research Conference, Hart found that the ability or inability of the crabs to conserve water corresponded to their habitat.
"This research is important because these crabs serve as indicators of water quality, and studying them allows us to examine the advancement of organisms from water to land because they are unique among crabs in being semi-terrestrial," said Hart.
"She did a phenomenal job at the conference, especially given that this was her first time presenting her research and that it was during her freshman year," said Collier. "I am very proud of her work and what she has accomplished at Wittenberg."
After a busy year, Hart was greeted with more research opportunities when she was awarded a Biology Department Summer Grant. She worked with Collier to conduct research on tropical orchids.
"Working with orchids really interested me in that there is a lot of research being done concerning the conservation of these rare plants," said Hart. "This group of plants is especially prone to the effects of global climate change given their unique mutualistic relationships with fungi and pollinating insects, so my work has real world significance and application."
Off to a fast start, Hart is already looking ahead, hoping that her hard work in the classroom and the research laboratory will eventually lead to graduate school.
"I haven't decided what to do with my degree," said Hart, "but I figure I still have a little time to work those things out."
Written by: Jennifer Dick '10
Photo by: Erin Pence
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