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Thursday, March 14, 2013
SRAP Alumna Courtney Gettel: Snail tails, writing skills and college life
Courtney collecting samples this summer
Snails may not have been Courtney
Gettel’s ideal creature to spend the summer studying, but what they may have lacked
in excitement they made up for in learning experiences. Courtney, a freshman at
the University of Wyoming majoring in Zoology, spent the summer working with
snails and in rivers for her Summer Research Apprentice Program (SRAP) project.
The snails became the means for adjusting to living away from home, preparing
for college and working on paper writing and research skills.
“It was a great experience,”
Courtney says. “I learned quite a bit. It was a good introduction to
Leaving home for the first time
to go to college can be difficult, especially for family people. It was one
thing Courtney was worried about as high school came to an end. Her transition
from high school to UW however, was eased by her participation in SRAP.
“My family and I feel that SRAP
was helpful in the transition to college because living away from home for
those six weeks was a good amount of time to get used to it and to get used to
the freedoms, but having the responsibilities,” Courtney says. “It made coming
to college a lot easier.”
By the time SRAP ended, Courtney
was ready to return home to Denver, but was looking forward to coming back for
the start of fall semester. Along with her first taste of living on her own and
getting through homesickness, Courtney’s love of science was solidified through
Courtney worked in Dr. Amy
Krist’s lab alongside graduate student Brenda Hansen. The focus of their
project overall was determining if snails have a preference for food with
“My project itself was looking at
the differences of nutrition within plants in different parts of a river,”
Courtney says. “Specifically, we were looking at phosphorus levels in plants.”
Part of the work involved writing
a research paper. For Courtney, this was both frustrating and a great learning experience.
“It was frustrating at times
because I kept getting back these papers that just had ink all over them,”
Courtney says. “But then I learned quite a bit, and actually it bettered my
writing for coming into college.”
Hansen’s tough grading, while wearisome
at first, has served Courtney well in college.
“I don’t know if it was
specifically Brenda, but my writing was definitely much more prepared for
college and I’m seeing that in my labs,” Courtney says. “Some people are having
trouble figuring out the labs, but I feel like I have an advantage from working
with Brenda, and her expecting me to write an almost paper ready edition of my
Courtney at the Laramie River this summer.
Along with the research
component, SRAP introduces students to the fun things to do in the area. It
aims to balance work and play, which Courtney really appreciated.
“Our weekend programs were really
fun,” she says. “We got to see a play and do a ropes course at Colorado State
University. That was all really fun. Even the working part was pretty fun. I
liked getting to work in the lab because that’s hopefully where I’ll be when I
Although graduation is still a
few years down the road, Courtney is interested in going to graduate school for
Marine Biology or to veterinary school. For now, however, she is getting the
hang of studying and time management, while enjoying the college life.
“College has been wonderful,”
Courtney says. “I really have enjoyed it.”