Drexel University offers the STAR (Students Tackling Advanced Research) program through the Office of Undergraduate Research annually for rising second-year students. I was selected as one of the first students from Drexel to work at the University of Oulu in Finland. I worked under an environmental engineer studying the optimal conditions needed for Sulfur Reducing Bacteria (SRB) within a bioreactor that would filter acid mine drainage water, which is a worldwide problem and toxic to local vegetation, wildlife and people.
While abroad, I completed an analysis of the literature covering the topics of acid mine drainage, past remediation methods, and the prospect of implementing a bioreactor and using SRB to filter the water and extract metals for profit. I wrote the summary report for my mentor’s findings for a private company that was considering investing in this pioneering method. I presented my research at conferences, in the US and abroad, allowing me to further improve on my public speaking and advocacy for environmental protection.
This experience gave me skills and knowledge that I could apply to environmental health issues here in the States, such as sulfur isotope analysis, and academic writing. This new technology is able to remove harmful contaminants from the environment, and allows local species to thrive in a once uninhabitable environment. I have been researching sulfur concentrations in wetlands vegetation samples along the East Coast, which could be negatively impacting sensitive and rare species.
Studying abroad is a truly enriching experience that allows you to gain new knowledge while experiencing a new culture and way of life.
I also recently studied abroad at the University of Sydney in Australia. Here I took classes with AU students and other international students studying Vertebrates of Australia, Australian History, Forestry and Astronomy. It was a great experience to see how Australia tackles popular issues such as invasive species, forest management and coming to terms with their own history, which is very similar to the path the US took.
I was able to make friends in my classes and experience the Australian way of life for five months. This opportunity has inspired me to pursue an international co-op for my final one next year. I plan on spending part of the time in Vietnam and another part in Cameroon studying the endangered pangolins and the perspective of the local people on this unique animal. Studying abroad is a truly enriching experience that allows you to gain new knowledge while experiencing a new culture and way of life. No matter what your major or career interest, there is a way for you to go see the world and do something great.