B.S. in Zoology, Michigan State University, 2016
2016 Outstanding Undergraduate Academic and Promise in Zoology Award Winner
Taylor Schoen, a Wisconsin native, purposefully enrolled at Michigan State University to study zoology. Taylor posits that “the most important and influential thing I did in my undergraduate career was to participate in research experiences.” Originally vet school bound, these experiential opportunities helped Taylor determine that she would prefer a career in research.
As an incoming freshman, Taylor opted to participate in the College of Natural Science’s (former) SpartaNature Program hosted at MSU’s W.K. Kellogg Biological Station (KBS) located in Hickory Corners, Michigan. This became her first of many research experiences as an undergraduate.
In the spring of her freshman year, Taylor began working in the Aquatic Animal Health Lab (AAHL) in the Department of Pathobiology and Diagnostic Investigation with Dr. Mohamed Faisal. She returned to KBS that summer as an undergraduate research apprentice in the Getty Lab. Taylor elaborated, “I worked under [graduate student] Sara Garnett and gained my first bit of research experience in behavioral ecology. While I enjoyed my work at KBS, over the next few years I realized that I was really interested in studying fish and wildlife disease. So I continued to work in the AAHL throughout my undergraduate career.”
In the summer of 2015, Taylor ventured even further from home as a participant in the Molecular Biology Research Study Abroad Program in Düsseldorf, Germany. Taylor explained, “I worked on an independent project investigating the impact of exercise in diabetic mouse models at the German Diabetes Center. My experience there confirmed my interest in research, especially research investigating disease.”
Not only has Taylor excelled in the laboratory, but also in the classroom. Because of her high academic performance and personable nature, Taylor had the privilege of working as a Learning Assistant for the Comparative Anatomy & Biology of Vertebrates course in spring 2016. She has received numerous academic awards including: eight semesters on the Dean’s List, the Stiles-Butcher Award, DAAD-RISE Fellow, and an Outstanding Academic Achievement and Promise in Zoology Award. She graduated with high honor from Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Science in Zoology with a concentration in Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology in spring 2016.
Initiative, exploration, and persistence were key in Taylor’s success. “My advice to incoming freshman would be to jump right into research and become involved in a variety of experiences to really figure out what your interests are. Also, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there by talking with your professors or graduate TAs about their research. I found it could be difficult to get some people to take me seriously, but don’t let yourself be discouraged by anyone!”
Moving forward, Taylor will return to Düsseldorf, Germany to begin a Master’s Program in Biology at Heinrich Heine University in fall 2016. Taylor elaborates, “After my Master’s I’d like to return to the U.S. and enter a Ph.D. program in Disease Ecology, as I’m interested in fish and wildlife disease. A career in research in academia or with a government agency is my main goal.”