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Research Experiences for Undergraduates Program

Joanna Bronkema

 Bronkema in Morgan LabWhat Summer did you participate in the K-State REU Program: 2008

Highest Degree Earned: B.A. Biology, minor Psychology Earlham College 2009

Current Position: Graduate Student in Biological Anthropology at University of California, San Diego

Website: jmbronkema.wordpress.com

Photos: Then (Morgan Lab 2008; left) Now (Happy in San Diego; right)

Briefly describe your REU research project. 
To test whether pigment trends in Thamnophis sirtalis (garter snake) were due to relatedness or ecological factors, I sampled T. sirtalis from Kansas and South Dakota. I sequenced the mitochondrial marker gene, cytochrome b and used bioinformatics to construct a phylogenetic map of the species’ genetic divergence in the United States. 

What did you learn from this REU project?
The REU was the most transformative summer of my life. I learned what it was like to work with real scientists in the lab and in the field, and on a personal level as well.

What was the best thing you remember about your summer in Manhattan, KS? 
Let's admit it, Manhattan, Kansas is not what comes to mind when most people think about where they want to spend a summer. But the faculty at K-State and my fellow students in the REU were some of the most accepting people I've met. The bonds I formed with the other students are still strong!

Briefly describe how the REU influenced your development as biologist
The REU let me experience for the first time how scientific research is conducted. It allowed me to gain confidence in experimental design and presentation of results.

Did your experience in the REU significantly influence your career goals?  If so, how? 
Whenever I question whether I am on the right career path, I think back to the REU and I remember how positive it can feel.

Did you publish or present your REU research?  If so please provide the details.  
The field research I conducted generated a paper in PLoS One