Devan Mathie, Junior, Environmental and Conservation Biology

Devan Mathie, Junior, Environmental and Conservation Biology:

Devan Image

What do you research?
I work in Dr. Costello’s lab, which is primarily a stream ecology lab. I specifically focus on decomposition in streams. I joined his project of studying decomposition through a cotton medium. We leave the cotton in streams or in the riparian zones next to the streams for a certain period of time, and then we take them back to the lab to measure things like tensile strength, nutrient composition, etc. These measurements give us an idea of how they are decaying and what is decaying them.

Why did you select this topic?
I went to an annual conference in Detroit for the Society for Freshwater Science when I first started working in Dr. Costello’s lab. I went to twenty different presentations, all the while taking notes and obtaining ideas. That was where a lot of my inspiration came from. I knew I wanted to do something with cotton from working in Dr. Costello’s lab, but I saw a really interesting presentation on patch dynamics and how different substrate sizes within a stream can act in different ways on nutrients. I incorporated that idea into my own project; I had my own cotton in different substrate patches and did a little bit of patch dynamics alongside other variations on the content that already existed.

How did you become involved in research at Kent State?
I knew that I wanted to be involved in research since I started college. I am a transfer student from Bowling Green, so I had gotten my feet wet a bit there, but I knew I also wanted to do work at Kent. I saw an advertisement for the SURE program on the digital bulletin board above the Student Center, and I decided that this was a fantastic opportunity. I looked into getting involved, I talked to the director of the program, Ann Gosky, and she gave me a list of professors to reach out to.

What do you enjoy most about research?
I enjoy the feeling of contributing to something more. There is something exciting about knowing that you are in a place of such intelligence, surrounded by people who are at the forefronts of their fields, and that you are helping them while they are helping you. You are in an environment in which you are encouraged to push that boundary in order to create the new discoveries that might change the world.

How do you think you have grown as a student and/or as a professional as a result of research? What would you tell a friend who would like to become involved in research?
For one, I feel more of a part of Kent. I needed to find my place in Kent after I transferred, and I think research is that place. I feel more connected to the community and more prepared for my future. I am still deciding whether to go directly into the career field or to go into a master’s program after graduation, but now I have those options. Research is a door opener, and it allows you to go the extra mile if you want to. Even in your classes, you can find material to use in your research; you can take what you are learning in your classes and put it towards something that is more meaningful to you. Research is a vessel to put all that knowledge into. Regarding getting involved, just talk to people. People always need help somewhere, and all you have to do is talk to them. I did not know Dr. Costello before I talked to him, and he was very welcoming. Now I am doing my own research in his lab. If someone says no, then there is always someone else to ask.