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I am a Biologist


It can be difficult to blend two majors such as biology and Spanish, but that is what Chelsea Jenney did –and so much more. As a freshman, she was able to start research in the Otterbein University biology lab. Her research, with guidance from associate professor of biology, Dr. Sarah Bouchard, led her to spend two summers conducting research on tree frogs in the jungles of Gamboa, Panama. Chelsea also had the opportunity to continue her research at Harvard University during the summer of 2012, and she has returned to Harvard for post-graduate research. 

“Really, we lived in a jungle. Cockroaches lived next to our silverware, and parrots served as our alarm clocks each morning,” Chelsea remembered. “I could not have asked for a better research advisor than Dr. Bouchard. She has become a role model to me and has set an amazing example of what it means to be an academic.”

At Otterbein, Chelsea was able to blend her love of biology with her interest in humanities through a Senior Year Experience (SYE) course taught by Dr. Wendy Johnston, professor of chemistry and biochemistry. 

“SYE: Face of AIDS truly grabbed a hold of my innermost self. (Dr. Johnston) taught us about CD4 T-cells, viral loads, past and current stigmas, of course. Most importantly, she inadvertently taught us to love freely and live compassionately, to see the best in our fellow brothers and sisters, and to walk in light, justice and truth. I left her classroom viewing the world through immensely different lenses, and I will forever cherish that,” Chelsea said.

As a person of faith, Chelsea joined Otterbein Christian Fellowship (OCF). She became interested in taking philosophy courses, especially those taught by religion and philosophy professor, Dr. Charles Zimmerman. 

“Dr. Zimmerman’s philosophy classes would literally put me on an academic high. I began to crave them, and his teachings consumed my conversations. Doc Z is a prodigious storyteller who happens to be a phenomenal teacher,” Chelsea said. “While in class, it was as if he was just telling us about the time he was a friend to David Hume, or rather, about the night he built a fire with Crazy Horse and shared stories with Sitting Bull.”

As diverse as her interests are - research in South America, health and humanities, philosophy - Chelsea was encouraged to pursue each of them at Otterbein.

“I am extremely proud of my Otterbein education. My undergraduate career was saturated with moments of confusion and doubt. One week I want one thing, and the next week, I thought I want something completely different,” she said. “If you listen carefully, though, this place will offer you very significant moments of clarity to hold on to or to let go of certain perceptions, goals, and more. It’s up to us to listen.”