Summer 2015 is one Zachary Diehl will never forget.
The Ohio State University senior spent seven weeks at Stone Laboratory – taking three classes for a total of eight credits – and changing his life in the process.
“I got to meet some fantastic people that I still stay in contact with. I got to really have some real personal connections with faculty that were teaching on the island, and I got some hands-on experience with things that you hear about in the classroom but don’t always understand fully because you’re just hearing about them,” Diehl said.
Diehl, who is double majoring in evolution, ecology and organismal biology (EEOB) and plant cellular molecular biology, grew up in Columbus and earned an associate’s degree from Columbus State Community College before transferring to Ohio State.
Because he still needed several science credits for his double major, Diehl’s academic advisor suggested he consider taking courses at Stone Lab. Stone Lab, Diehl said, seemed like an ideal experience for someone with his interests, but as a first-generation college student who is paying his own way through college, he knew he wouldn’t be able to go if he didn’t get financial assistance.
A scholarship paved the way for Diehl to take ecology, field ecology and spider biology.
“The scholarship made a huge difference for me being able to take classes at Stone Lab. Being a student who doesn’t have financial support from his parents and pays his own way through college, without the scholarship, it’s not something I would have been able to do,” he said.
The spider biology course, in particular, made a big impression on Diehl. Dr. Richard Bradley had each student conduct a research project during the week-long class.
“I learned how to conduct a research project from beginning to end. This is a skill that is universal and can be applied to many of the career choices that I am considering today,”
“He was incredibly helpful,” Diehl said. “I’d come up with a couple ideas of things I was interested in, and he steered me through the options and what potential problems I might find.”
Diehl ended up studying the cardiovascular rates of spiders before and after they consumed prey. Over the course of the week, he measured the heart rates of 25 different spiders before and after meals.
“You can see their hearts beating through their exoskeletons,” Diehl said.
Because the spiders were nocturnal, he didn’t get a lot of sleep that week. But it was worth it, Diehl said.
In addition to his double majors, Diehl is minoring in public health and is thinking of going back to school to become a physician’s assistant. But no matter what field he ends up in, the skills Stone Lab – especially attention to detail and the experience conducting his own research project – will be an incredible asset, he said.
“I learned how to conduct a research project from beginning to end. This is a skill that is universal and can be applied to many of the career choices that I am considering today,” he said.