Clark University Senior Alison Berlent, of Medfield, Spends Her Summer Conducting Research in Biology Lab

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Clark University senior Alison Berlent

WORCESTER, MA (10/02/2012)(readMedia)-- Alison D. Berlent, a senior from Medfield, is one of ten Clark University undergraduate students who spent her summer conducting research with the help of a Steinbrecher Fellowship. Berlent will continue her project during the 2012-2013 academic year. The Steinbrecher Fellowship Program was established in 2006 to encourage and support Clark undergraduates' pursuit of original ideas, creative research, and community service projects.

Berlent spent her summer in Clark Biology Professor Susan Foster's laboratory researching the stress-response system in stickleback fish. Berlent, who wishes to pursue a career in veterinary medicine, is interested in this topic because of its base in evolution and connection to broader vertebrate systems. She proposed her project after completing a course on evolution.

"A special connection to and passion for animals has led to my dedication to pursue a career in veterinary medicine," wrote Berlent in her research proposal. "One of the reasons I chose Clark was because I'd have the opportunity of doing undergraduate research. The Steinbrecher Fellowship allows me to put my passion for biology and animals to the test, and gain knowledge that will prepare me for work after Clark."

Reflecting upon her experience this summer, Berlent said, "I certainly think this research has impacted my future studies and what I do after college. I am currently applying to veterinary school, and the research I am doing made possible by the Steinbrecher Fellowship, has made me seriously consider veterinary research. There is definitely more work to be done in this field! Hopefully, my project can serve as a pilot study for another Clarkie to continue and learn from."

Following is a link to a web page that lists Berlent as a laboratory member:

"Many students who come to me wanting to work with animals have a very unrealistic view of what it means to do so. Ali does not," said Professor Foster, Berlent's faculty sponsor. "She works in surgery with a veterinarian here in Worcester and has seen all kinds of injuries and the need to make difficult decisions. Her choice of a project in my laboratory is further evidence of her understanding that to advance veterinary medicine one must test hypotheses about cures using animals."

Berlent is a member of the Class of 2013 a biology major. She is the recipient of a Traina Scholarship, and is a Lise Ann and Leo E. Beavers Research Fellowship. She is also a member of Choices, and the Women's Crew Team at Clark, and has served as a volunteer at the Tufts Wildlife Hospital, a vet tech for Westside Animal Clinic, and an intern for the New England Wildlife Center.

Berlent is 2009 graduate of Medfield High School. She is the daughter of Jane and Bruce Berlent of Medfield.

The Steinbrecher Fellowship Program was established in memory of David C. Steinbrecher, class of '81, by his parents, Phyllis and Stephen Steinbrecher, class of '55, and is funded by generous gifts from the Steinbrecher family and friends of David.

Deborah Merrill, associate professor of sociology and acting director of the Steinbrecher Fellows Program, said that the committee was very impressed by the intellectual depth of the projects being pursued and expects that all will result in significant findings.

Founded in 1887 in Worcester, Massachusetts, Clark University is a small, liberal arts-based research university addressing social and human imperatives on a global scale. Nationally renowned as a college that changes lives, Clark is emerging as a transformative force in higher education today. LEEP (Liberal Education and Effective Practice) is Clark's pioneering model of education that combines a robust liberal arts curriculum with life-changing world and workplace experiences. Clark's faculty and students work across boundaries to develop solutions to contemporary challenges in the areas of psychology, geography, management, urban education, Holocaust and genocide studies, environmental studies, and international development and social change. The Clark educational experience embodies the University's motto: Challenge convention. Change our world.