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Bridget Bickers ’15 Takes Research Skills to Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine

Bridget Bickers ’15 Takes Research Skills to Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine

By Alli Bates ’16

Otterbein alumna Bridget Bickers ’15 had a stellar final year at Otterbein, thanks to experiences that taught her to be a strong researcher. As a senior, she earned the best honors project award, gained valuable experience working in a microbial genetics lab on campus and earned national recognition from the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB). This fall, the recent graduate from the Department of Equine Science will attend Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.

According to Bickers, the completion of her honors project is one of her greatest achievements at Otterbein.

“I started out being unsure if I would enjoy or be proficient at scientific research. I was able to conduct technically-challenging procedures in order to make a mutant strain of the plant pathogen Streptomyces scabies with a specific gene deleted from that bacterium’s genome. By studying my mutants I could figure out what the protein encoded by that gene does in the normal bacteria; these findings could be beneficial to both the fields of agriculture and medicine,” said Bickers. Her findings will eventually be submitted as a manuscript for publishing in a scientific journal.

Based on her strengths as a scientific researcher, Bickers won the ASBMB Undergraduate Research Grant and was one of only 36 students in the country who were inducted into the ASBMB National Honor Society. She presented a research poster at the ASBMB Annual Meeting in Boston and won an ASBMB Undergraduate Affiliates Network Travel Award to present at the meetings. For her presentation, she was awarded the ASBMB 2015 Thematic Best Poster Award in the category of Plant Metabolism.

Bickers explains how Otterbein prepared her by giving her a world class education. “Through the equine science program, I have learned basic horse handling skills, as well as medical skills, such as how to perform basic medical exams, give medications, administer vaccinations and apply medical bandages,” said Bickers.

In addition to the hands-on experience, the course work she has taken has prepared her to go directly into the equine industry or to pursue graduate or veterinary education. The science courses she has taken, as well as her independent research experience, have given her a solid foundation for veterinary school and for a potential career in research.

Bickers has also been given the opportunity to be a teaching assistant in both the Biology and Equine Science departments. By being a teaching assistant, she has learned how to break down complex concepts into simpler terms, which will be a valuable skill as a veterinarian. From this experience, Bickers has also become interested in teaching one day, which opens up even more paths for her career.

Learn more about the Department of Equine Science.