Research Experience at GWU Helps Alumna Gain Position in Grad School Program

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Amy Schmitt Boyer ’15 Conducts Unique Study of Bat Personalities

GWU Alumna Amy S. Boyer studied six-lined racerunner lizards when she was a student at Gardner-Webb. Her research led to a position in a graduate program studying bats.

As an undergraduate student at Gardner-Webb University, Amy Schmitt Boyer ’15 studied six-lined racerunner lizards at the Broad River. Although the research tested her patience, the experience helped her secure a position in the graduate program at North Dakota State University (NDSU) in Fargo. “I learned that experimental design and methods are crucial in performing a surveying experiment,” reflected Boyer, a native of Waxhaw, N.C. “It also taught me the best way to present my research to the public.”

Boyer played soccer at GWU and was captain of the team her senior year. She majored in biological sciences and minored in chemistry and environmental science. She chose Gardner-Webb because it wasn’t too far from home and she liked the soccer coaches, small class sizes and honors society opportunities. “I enjoyed the one-on-one attention I received from my professors,” she assessed. “It was clear they all wanted to see me succeed and enjoy my time on campus. The best part was they encouraged me outside of normal school hours by attending my games and events.”

Amy S. Boyer is studying the personalities of big brown bats. Her research gives more insight into a topic that very few scientists have examined.

When she graduated from Gardner-Webb, she moved 1,400 miles from home. After years of having reptiles as pets and then studying them in college, she began observing mammals. Working under the direction of behavioral ecologist Dr. Erin H. Gillam at NDSU, Boyer is researching the personalities of big brown bats and will publish her findings soon. She specifically studied exploration, activity and aggression by observing bats in different environments. Her work gives more insight into a topic that very few scientists have examined.

Interaction with her GWU advisors and professors and discussion-based lectures prepared her for the work at NDSU. “I also think having already written a thesis and performing a large scale experiment helped with designing my master’s objectives and methodology,” Boyer added. “All the science professors at Gardner-Webb had their own style of teaching, but each did it in a way to promote success and growth. Organic chemistry, for example, is a daunting class, but Dr. (Ben) Brooks made it so easy to understand that both semesters flew by. Dr. (Joseph) Oyugi brought the class outside, which was always refreshing. Dr. (Tom) Jones always had funny stories about his experience in science. Dr. (Venita) Totten, one of the sweetest and kindest professors I know, helped me through all my chemistry courses. Dr. (David) Judge made invert and biochem enjoyable and was always cracking jokes. Dr. (David) Campbell has a brilliant mind and made me feel important in geology.”

Outside of her major, the class she enjoyed most was British Literature II, taught by GWU President Dr. Frank Bonner. “It was refreshing to be taught by and observe the president of the University in his comfort zone,” Boyer explained. “He got to know each of us individually, and I ended up acing the class.”