Maggie Benson '13 and Biology Professor Grace Lim-Fong
Benson is studying an invasive marine invertebrate.
Randolph-Macon College student Maggie Benson ’13 is conducting
hands-on research this summer. Her Schapiro Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) project involves studying an invasive marine
invertebrate, Bugula neritina.
“I am researching to find out why one of the genotypes of the species is invasive,”
says the biology major. “I collect larvae in
the morning and perform settlement experiments and measure larval size throughout
the day. Once this part of my study is completed, I will perform molecular analyses.”
Benson, a Sparks, Maryland native, has always enjoyed the sciences, and she applied
to the SURF program in order to hone her research skills.
“I felt that it would be a great experience that can help me in my future education
and career,” she says. “SURF enhances my academic experience by allowing me to experience
hands-on research. I’m also fine-tuning my ability to write scientific papers.”
Benson meets with her SURF mentor, Biology Professor Grace-Lim Fong, each day to
discuss the research.
“Having a mentor is great because Professor Lim-Fong is there to answer questions
and guide me—but she also lets me figure things out on my own. She is helping me
become a better researcher.”
“Maggie enrolled in an independent research course in the spring semester prior
to SURF and will continue her research in the fall semester for her senior capstone,”
says Lim-Fong. “She has such an intuitive feel for research and has impeccable organizational
skills—traits that will serve her well in her future career.”
In addition to participating in the SURF program, Benson is a member of the
lacrosse team, a student trainer for the
football team, and a member of Chi Beta
Phi and Beta Beta Beta.
Her post-R-MC plans include Physical Therapy school.
SURF was introduced in 1995 as an endowment to
support scholarly undergraduate research by students in all disciplines. Students
conduct 10 weeks of full-time, original research during the summer months, under
the guidance of a faculty mentor. The initial gift for the program was made by Benjamin
Schapiro ’64 and his wife Peggy.