Institute for the Environment & Sustainability
at Miami University
Student Profile: John Whalen (Class of 2013)
- zoology major with an environmental science co-major
- minors in geology, Spanish, and Latin American studies
- from Dayton, OH
- president of the Zoology Club
- member of Delta Tau Delta fraternity
"Hi, I'm John Whalen. I decided to come to Miami because I thought the campus was amazing and that I would fit right in with the other students.
"After researching academics, I discovered that Miami doesn't have a biology major. I was skeptical at first about majoring in zoology, but now that I've taken three years of ZOO courses, I realize that with my well-rounded education I'll have many opportunities after I graduate.
"I picked up the environmental science co-major right away. I thought all of the required courses sounded interesting and the co-major would give me a more liberal education.
"I was very ambitious and added a major in Spanish. When I realized that I would not be able to handle the workload, I dropped Spanish to a minor. I added Latin American studies and geology as minors as well.
"I've always wanted to become a marine biologist but my co-major and the courses I've taken in geology broadened my perspective. My plans now include graduate school to study marine biology or environmental science policy and management."
Research and Work in a Lab
"I first got involved in research my sophomore year and started to work in a lab. The research was based on deer grazing on soybean fields. I learned that there are a lot of deer around Oxford who eat the local farmers' crops, especially soybeans! I helped collect and analyze data on the effects of deer browsing on the production of soybeans.
"As a junior, I started to work on a different project and in another lab. I collected water samples from Acton Lake [part of Hueston Woods State Park, near Oxford, OH] and other local water systems to study the effects of nutrient loading on the phytoplankton composition. I helped to process and analyze these samples in order to determine how the amount of certain nutrients change throughout the year due to agricultural runoff and other sources."
Tropical Marine Ecology
"I've also studied in the Florida Everglades, Keys, and the Bahamas. Tropical Marine Ecology [IES 413/513] counted for the synthesis portion of my environmental science co-major. It was a great hands-on course and I was learning every minute. We snorkeled, hiked through the Everglades, took a boat out to the barrier reefs off Florida, and went caving. I performed an experiment with other students on the trip to study the species diversity and richness on man-made reefs."
"Being president of the Zoology Club has allowed me to become a better leader and public speaker, and has helped me grow as a person. The club hosts many events: visits to the Newport Aquarium, horseback riding, a presentation by the Columbus Zoo, and speeches by Miami professors. We also volunteer at a local animal shelter.
"I'm also a member of the club football team. I played football in high school and thought about going to a Division III school in order to keep playing. When I looked into club football at Miami and found out that I could still play contact football with pads, I knew that this was the right school for me.
"I came to college thinking that I was not going to join a fraternity. I looked into it freshman year but did not find one that suited me. I tried again and found Delta Tau Delta fraternity to be the right fit for me. I thoroughly enjoy being a Delt and living in the fraternity house. I've made some great friends and taken advantage of opportunities that I would not have had otherwise. For example, last summer I went to the Sailing Leadership Academy hosted by Delta Tau Delta. I met Delts from around the country and sailed off the coast of Maine for a week while learning about my strengths and weaknesses as a leader."