Senior excited about graduate study in entomology
RELEASED: May 8, 2008
"I watched the movie 'Jaws' and was captivated," Crain says. "From that day forward, I decided I would be a marine biologist."
When it came time for the native of Horse Cave, Ky., to apply to colleges, Crain was fascinated by Centre College's focus on personal education after looking at schools across the country.
"I heard about how prestigious Centre is, and I learned I could design my own major, so I thought Centre was a good choice," he says.
Crain ended up choosing a biology major and his focus has changed from marine biology to entomology—the study of insects. Crain's overall interests include ecology, evolution and modeling, and his passion for studying insects began during the summer after his freshman year when he had a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates (NSF REU) at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory (RMBL) in Colorado.
"I learned a lot about science there, but most important, I learned how time consuming research is," Crain says. "I started thinking about shark research, and suddenly the six to eight months at sea to answer some interesting research questions seemed too much, so I decided to work with insects where sample size is never a problem.”
Crain adds, "Plus, I like to be able to see the organism I'm studying."
After he graduates later this month, Crain will be enrolled in the University of Kentucky's Department of Entomology Ph.D. program. (Crain was also accepted into Ph.D. programs at the University of California at Davis, Oregon State University and the University of Florida.) There he will intensely study, among other things, how to control mosquito populations. Crain will also travel to French Polynesia to study mosquito habitats as part of his graduate work.
"There I learned the 'hard' part of science, but I likewise learned how to persevere, receive help and even give help to others," Crain says.
He also gives a lot of credit to faculty members and fellow students at Centre.
"Equally important to me was Dr. Michael Bradshaw, a computer science teacher I had for CSC 261 (computational science)," Crain explains. "This class may have been the single most important class I took at Centre because this class piqued my curiosity in modeling, and with some encouragement from Dr. Anne Collins, caused me to take more mathematics, which was the most instrumental factor that landed me a position as a Ph.D. student at the Entomology Department at the University of Kentucky."
Crain says another important Centre experience influencing his future was an ecology project in visiting assistant professor of biology Dr. Paul Sikkel's ecology class. Through that project, he had his first contact with Dr. Steven Dobson, whose graduate program he would ultimately join at UK.
Crain continues: "I've spent countless hours talking with my advisor Dr. Mike Barton and his wife Dr. Chris Barton, both of whom have been instrumental in my academic career and personal life. Dr. Peggy Richey has challenged me inside the classroom and was open to sponsoring an independent study focusing on the Origin of Life with Dr. Preston Miles and myself."
Crain is quick to point out that most of the credit for his success at Centre and his education should go to his father, mother and wife Emily. (Last July, Crain married his girlfriend of four years.) Without all their support, Crain says he couldn't have accomplished any of his acheivements thus far.
"My education is unique to me. My spirit had dictated my paths, and Centre has been the avenue for my dreams to come alive," Crain says. "I wasn't forced into a 'biology major plan,' but rather I was free to select my own classes and challenge myself in so many ways that are simply not available at other institutions. Centre is extraordinary, because I was able to create my own education that matched my unique spirit perfectly. I appreciate Centre for that, especially the faculty members who strive to make that fact real to every student who has a dream."
And, he adds, with his biology education, and specifically his work in modeling and genetics, he will always have the knowledge to go back and study his first love, great white sharks.
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Founded in 1819, Centre College is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges. Consumers Digest ranks Centre No. 1 in educational value among all U.S. liberal arts colleges. Centre alumni, known for their nation-leading loyalty in annual financial support, include two U.S. vice presidents and two Supreme Court justices. For more, visit http://www.centre.edu/web/elevatorspeech/
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