Biology Department research opportunities

Lauren Cole, Staff Writer

The Francis Marion University (FMU) Department of Biology offers several research opportunities
each semester to assist students in pursuit of their science degree and to allow for them the opportunity of
hands-on experience.
The students who are chosen to help professors with research can receive credit hours or pay for their
research.  These opportunities provide students with lab experience, field opportunities and graduate level
research options.
The research opportunities are designed to help students gain a better understanding of
post-undergraduate work and give them the chance to decide if it is something they are interested in
making into a career.  It also sets the students apart from others when applying to graduate schools.
Dr. Gerald Long, professor of biology and director of the FMU Herbarium, offers research
opportunities to students interested in doing plant-based research.
Several other professors in the
department offer medically based or environmentally based research opportunities.
Long said the extensive amount of research offered is what separates FMU from the other schools in
the state.
“Research isn’t for everyone,” Long said. “Students need to be motivated and hardworking.  Research
is a lot of hard work that prepares you for the future.”
Long explained that research allows students to see how knowledge in science is acquired and where
it came from.  Because of this, he said it is a more effective learning tool than “memorizing from a book.”
The Department of Biology offers a range of areas to study, depending on a student’s particular tract:
medical, veterinarian or environmental areas.  These areas of study coincide with research opportunities
offered by more than 10 different professors.
Research provides supervised and independent experience and training in the laboratory setting.
Students also utilize different machines, learn new techniques and perform experiments beyond the
Austin Kemmerlin, senior biology major, is currently working on graduate-level research and training
in dissections and microscopy.
“Research has prepared me for medical school in ways I didn’t think possible,” Kemmerlin said. “I
can use different microscope techniques that I wouldn’t ordinarily have been able to without performing
Kemmerlin has been doing research for the past two years and said the project he is working on is
something that has not been done before and never been studied.
“Without having done research, I would definitely be behind the curve,” said Kemmerlin. “I am
working towards a publication and learning how to do cellular level microscope dissections that requires
specialized instruments.”
  Research provides students with one-on-one experience with a professor specialized in a given area
or field.  Students can make connections and discover new ways of problem solving.  Researchers are
taught how to make a hypothesis, set up and conduct experiments, collect data and determine the next
step in their research while being guided by a specialized instructor.