“Doing research with a faculty mentor was really important for me. It helped me develop confidence in doing lab work because if you’ve never done that before, it can be super-scary. Now I hope to pursue a PhD in ecology.”
Loretha is from West Bend, Wisconsin, and is now planning for graduate study in Aquatic Sciences. Her undergraduate experience was shaped by getting involved in research. As a McNair scholar, Loretha started research with Professors Erica Young and John Berges, working on biogeochemical silicate cycling in freshwater ecosystems. During summer 2017, she was involved in field research and laboratory analysis, gaining skills and confidence in planning experiments, collecting and processing samples, data analysis and writing. She continued research with Young and Berges over the next few semesters, combining field work with lab experience including developing a new chemical assay to investigate silicate incorporation, assessing phytoplankton growth and using microscopy methods for staining Lake Michigan phytoplankton cells.
With some research experience at UWM under her belt, she was accepted for a prestigious summer internship in 2018 at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute – one of the most premier marine research facilities in the world! Her research on kelp microbiomes contributed to research being prepared for publication with Loretha as a co-author.
At UWM, she was awarded numerous scholarships and awards for undergraduate research through the Dept Biological Sciences and Office of Undergraduate Research. She also gained experience in presenting her research at undergraduate research symposia at UWM, the National Conference on Undergraduate Research in Georgia in 2019, and the Annual Ronald McNair Research Conferences in Schaumburg IL in 2017. She was also a co-author on research presented at an international research conference on Silicate in Canada in 2018.