Chowan University junior spends summer conducting field research

Published 10:04 am Monday, July 10, 2017

By Amanda Bradshaw Sharpe
University Relations

MURFREESBORO – Carrie Blowe, a Junior Biology major at Chowan University, has chosen to spend her summer with turtles in local ponds rather than vacationing to the beaches or mountains.

As part of graduation requirements for biology majors, Blowe is obligated to complete either an outside internship, or a research project with a current professor. She was approached by Dr. Corina Wack, Associate Professor of Biology, last fall about the possibility of doing a research project her junior year, and Blowe decided she would prefer it to an internship.

Carrie Blowe (left), Chowan University junior, takes a blood sample from a turtle with Dr. Corina Wack, Associate Professor of Biology at Chowan University.

“I am a local student, so we decided to do a field project rather than research in a lab setting,” Blowe shared.

During the spring semester Dr. Wack and Blowe contacted local landowners to inquire about the use of their ponds to capture turtles for the study.

“We are looking for the effects of agricultural run-off on the immune health of turtles and fish. I have learned a lot about conducting research while in the field, but the most interesting thing I’ve learned so far is how to draw blood from a turtle and how to make blood smears,” said Blowe.

Each month from May to October, Blowe and Dr. Wack will set traps at two reference ponds and three ponds located near farms around Aulander. They will collect water quality data at each of the ponds, measuring each animal caught and taking blood samples.

Dr. Wack stated, “Carrie will then examine the blood under the microscope to count the number of white and red blood cells to see if there is a difference between animals caught at the treatment ponds vs. reference ponds.”

Blowe will present her research at the State of NC Undergraduate Research and Creativity Symposium in November at Campbell University. In addition to her research, Blowe also applied for and was awarded a North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities (NCICU) undergraduate research grant. After graduation, Blowe plans to attend an accelerated bachelor’s of nursing program to pursue a career in critical and emergency care. “I would recommend doing research to other students if they have a specific interest that may be shared with a professor, as long as they’re willing to put in the work,” Blowe remarked. ‘By doing research, I am not only strengthening my work ethic, I am also learning valuable skills if I ever wanted to work in a research lab or even a hematology lab within a medical facility. I am learning vital information about how the immune system of turtles and fish respond to stress.”