By Susan Shinn, Catawba College News Service
Erin Witalison can tell you anything you'd like to know about biochemistry and the biomedical sciences, but there's one term about which she hesitates.
Witalison, 21, a Catawba College senior from Gold Hill and the daughter of John and Linda Witalison, doesn't have a lot of it. She's a double major in biology and Spanish, minoring in chemistry.
In May, she started a fellowship with the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis. She's wrapping up an internship in Spanish with the City of Salisbury, and works about 15 hours a week at Tinseltown.
So it's easy to see why she doesn't have much free time.
She's also a member of the college's softball team, which plays games in the spring. But with workouts, conditioning and practice in the fall, she says, "It might as well be a year-round sport."
Witalison made time to make a presentation based on her research project at NCRC on Saturday, Nov. 20, at Meredith College. She participated in the State of North Carolina Undergraduate Research and Creativity Symposium. Her presentation was entitled "Proteomic analysis of metamorphosis in a hydroid."
Most other students only made research proposals at the symposium, she notes. "I have a head start."
"This was my first real presentation" outside of class," she said. "I had to cut it down." Witalison was given 15 minutes to present her findings.
"I've done more than I realized since the beginning of the summer,"
She will present her final research in the spring.
At first, she says, working in the NCRC's Core Lab was a little intimidating because there were all sorts of new machines and new technologies to learn. "I'm learning things every time I go. I'm comfortable with the instruments. It's not quite as intimidating now."
Witalison's research concentrates on proteomics, the study of proteins. "Every different species is made up of a certain pattern on proteins," she explains. She is developing techniques to get results from studying the various stages of proteomics.
"It's been a great learning experience," says Witalison, now in the process of applying to graduate schools at the University of South Carolina, the University of Georgia and the University of Florida.
Witalison needs about 130 hours to complete the 400-hour fellowship, which ends in May.
"It's just been a learning process," she says. "The key thing is that the experience will set you above the rest of the applicants to graduate school."
Witalison is the second Catawba College student who has applied and received a fellowship at the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis. Her fellow student, Nathan Griffin of Boomer, worked during the 2009-2010 academic year with a research associate in the laboratory of Steven Zeisel at the UNC Chapel Hill unit there.
Freelance writer Susan Shinn is a full-time student at Catawba College.
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