Research and Relationships with Faculty | St. Lawrence University

Research and Relationships with Faculty

Friday, January 29, 2021

Amidst my final semester at St. Lawrence, not a day goes by that I don’t find myself wishing I had four more years at the place that has become my second home. Although I am overwhelmed by sadness and uncertainly each time I think about graduating, those feelings of uneasiness are equally coupled with a deep appreciation for the people and experiences that have shaped my time here. While there are countless students, faculty, and staff to thank for making my college experience so meaningful, I will always reflect on my academic time at St. Lawrence as being largely defined by my research advisor Dr. Lorraine Olendzenski and the opportunities she has provided me.

My relationship with Dr. Olendzenksi began in the fall of my junior year as a student in her microbiology course. My lab partner and I designed an experiment to research microbial growth in filtered drinking water samples on campus for our final independent project. After presenting our findings to the class and recognizing potential avenues for further research, we spoke with Dr. Olendzenski about continuing the project beyond her microbiology course through independent research. Her excitement for the topic matched ours, and she immediately offered to take us on as research advisees.

Since that day, Dr. Olendzenski has spent countless hours sharing her extensive knowledge with us, teaching us a variety of lab techniques, and above all supporting us as students and people. It has been such a rewarding opportunity to work closely under the guidance of someone who is not only extremely passionate about her work, but who is eager to teach her students and instill within them the confidence to succeed. 

As our project has expanded over the past year, so has our research team, which has included eight students over the course of the project and currently consists of five of us actively working on it. Each of us bring unique passions, skills, and motives to the team, which has enabled us to collectively learn from each other and achieve far more than we ever could have individually.

The ability to collaborate on a daily basis with highly motivated peers while working towards a common goal has been a truly enriching experience. Beyond academically supporting each other, we’ve also been fortunate enough to build friendships over the many hours spent in lab and through our routine lunch breaks at Johnson Grab and Go. 

As I near graduation and the subsequent end of my involvement with this research project, it becomes more apparent how significant it has been to my overall St. Lawrence experience. Not only has it enabled me to combine my interests from my biology major and my statistics and public health minors to conduct research on a topic I am passionate about, but it has further allowed me to apply what I’ve learned in the classroom and lab over the past four years to a real-world experience.

Being able to conduct this project under the guidance of an advisor as dedicated as Dr. Olendzenski and alongside students as intellectually diverse as our team continually reminds me of how fortunate I am to attend a university comprised of faculty who truly care about our achievements and students who collaboratively encourage one another to succeed. While I would never leave St. Lawrence if I did not have to, I will forever be grateful for the enriching opportunities I have been provided here and for the people that have made them possible.