Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

A minute with…Lindsay Petrenchik ’13

Lindsay Petrenchik ’13Lindsay Petrenchik, a biochemistry major, has been working with Professor of Biology Barbara Brennessel conducting research on spotted turtles on Cape Cod. The project recently won a grant from the Nantucket Biodiversity Initiative. Turtle talk: “Spotted turtles are in rapid decline because their habitats are being fragmented and altered by humans. The objective of our study is to compare the genetic differences between spotted turtle populations on Nantucket Island and on the mainland, which allows us to determine how related the island populations are to the mainland populations. Because island populations are isolated, there is a high degree of inbreeding that can make animals less adaptable or more susceptible to disease. Once we have analyzed the data, we will submit a report to the Nantucket Conservation Foundation. Foundation officials have explained that a comparison between the island and mainland populations could possibly help to determine appropriate conservation and management methods of spotted turtles that have become isolated due to habitat fragmentation.” Rewarding work: “I am so grateful that I have the opportunity to work on the turtle research because not only do I find every day in lab a rewarding experience, I also love that I am contributing to a greater cause by providing information to spotted turtle conservationists. And although I work independently on most days, I greatly value the time I spend with Professor Brennessel. Her extreme passion for this research is definitely contagious.” Discovery in the marsh: “My experience in taking the winter course ‘Cape Cod Barrier Beach Winter Ecology’ on Sandy Neck Beach in January 2012 opened my eyes to the importance of conservation biology. Because I am pre-med, I had previously focused more on threats to human lives. By studying salt marshes, I realized that trying to prevent threats to species in an ecosystem is just as important as trying to prevent threats to humans, as we are also sharing the earth with other species.” Major decision: “I decided to major in biochemistry my freshman year while taking ‘Cells and Genes’ and ‘Organic Chemistry’ at the same time. Taking these classes at the same time made me want to further understand biological processes at the cellular and chemical level. I have truly enjoyed drawing connections between my biology and chemistry courses throughout my college career. In the future, my ideal job would be one that allows me to stay involved in biochemistry and keeps me up to date on the latest scientific advancements in order to make a contribution to the world around me, such as a career in conservation biology.”

About Elizabeth Meyer

Elizabeth Meyer is a student in the Class of 2014.