I Am a Scientist
Cara Hardy had a moment of realization early in her career at Otterbein.
“My moment did not happen in some spectacular setting. I remember I was sitting in class one day and all of a sudden it hit me: I’m a freshman in college and I’m already researching with an excellent professor, I have class with the President of the University, I’ve gotten to travel, and I’ve hardly been here a full semester!”
During her class taught by Otterbein’s President, Kathy Krendl, Cara had the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C.
“My trip to DC with Dr. Krendl was one of a kind. We went to Opportunity Nation, a bipartisan effort to increase opportunity to underprivileged children across America,” she said. “It was so interesting to learn about the efforts people have put in place that are showing real results, and how we can institute that in our own communities.”
Cara has taken that knowledge to heart. She is a part of the Friends of Alum Creek and Tributaries (FACT) organization. Alum Creek is one of the major watersheds in the Westerville and Central Ohio areas, providing vital habitat and water supplies. Cara also has taken part in Otterbein's bi-annual community plunge, Girl Talk and Relay for Life.
Cara has balanced her desire to serve the community with her interest in research. She was given the chance to start research in her major during her first year, and noted that one professor has been particularly influential.
“Dr. (John) Tansey (biochemistry and molecular biology program director and associate professor of chemistry) has been so inspiring in my studies and professional pursuits. He has pushed me to take charge in our lab, ask my own questions, and not be afraid of taking a leap of faith when I’m unsure about something,” Cara said. “He’s helped me write research proposals to get funding, given me the opportunity to present my research in Boston, and offered me a paid position in the lab this summer. Dr. Tansey opens the door, but he lets you make the choice of whether or not you’ll walk in.”
Cara presented her research, with Dr. Tansey, to experts in her field at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology national conference in Boston, who gave her feedback and possible ideas for future research. She also served as an intern in Otterbein’s biochemistry and molecular biology lab.
“Otterbein has presented me with so many opportunities. The curriculum is challenging, and it drives me to push myself and find out how far my limits are,” she said. “I don’t have to try to impress anyone here or win anyone over. At Otterbein, you’ll be accepted for who you are –whoever that may be. Weird, quirky, nerdy… whatever floats your boat.”