Kacey Hill, Biology
“After studying wildlife in Kentucky, I'd absolutely recommend a summer research program to other students.”
Hill looked around the country for summer research opportunities and chose to study invasive plants at the University of Louisville in 2013. She was one of Louisville's first visiting students in the National Science Foundation's Research Experiences for Undergraduates program, which UMass Lowell also hosts.
She used radio telemetry to track urban wildlife as they moved about their habitats, which have been altered by invasive honeysuckle. Hill worked with a Ph.D. student and others to see how the animals are affected and how the plant is spreading. They also cataloged other plants in the area, increasing Hill’s identification and data tracking skills.
“Researching in Louisville was hugely beneficial for me because I saw practical applications of many ecological principles I'd learned about in my classes,” says Hill. “I also learned a lot about research methodology and how painstaking it is.”
As a commuter, Hill also used the summer to experience living away from home. She enjoyed living in an on-campus apartment and got to know the area by joining the local running club. Hill is involved on campus as part of the honors program community, but the resident experience was an important step as she considers graduate schools.
“I got to explore a new place, grow in my field and gain academic experience. Now I know I can handle graduate school if that’s the path I choose. I matured a lot while I was away, and returned ready to tackle my senior year.”