COLUMBUS, Ohio -- What can an undergraduate degree from Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) help you achieve in the 21st century? If you are Drew Enigk, a combination of research and international travel experience hard to find anywhere else -- along with a terrific foundation for future studies and career prospects.
A native of Cincinnati, Enigk will graduate this Sunday, June 10, with a degree in animal sciences. He initially chose his major as a way to fulfill his pre-vet requirements. Soon, however, Enigk discovered a world of possibilities within and outside animal sciences that he hadn't anticipated when he became a Buckeye.
"I realized how broad the animal sciences major really is, got interested in neuroscience, and became fascinated by how the brain works and its impact on behavior," said Enigk, who also completed minors in neuroscience, life sciences and physical anthropology.
Very early in his college experience, Enigk got involved in research, presenting posters at the CFAES Undergraduate Research Forum and at the university-wide Denman Undergraduate Research Forum. He also collaborated with animal welfare program specialist Naomi Botheras on a project involving the impact of human-animal interactions on the behavior and productivity of commercially reared turkeys.
"After that I wanted to look into exotic animals, to study the differences in behavior between domesticated and non-domesticated animals," Enigk said. "Thanks to the research skills I gained and the support of the faculty and staff in the Department of Animal Sciences, I was able to get a summer internship at the St. Louis Zoo to study the behavior of Grevy's zebras and Somali wild asses. Later I conducted independent research at the Columbus, studying the social interactions of bonobos, a type of great ape."
Enigk credits the wealth of academic disciplines and resources available at Ohio State with fueling his new interests and career path -- ape behavior and conservation.
"I received a National Science Foundation graduate research fellowship, which will fully fund three years of graduate school," Enigk said. "I have decided to attend the University of New Mexico to obtain my Ph.D. in evolutionary anthropology. I plan to conduct research on the behavior and endocrinology of wild chimpanzees in Kibale National Park in Uganda, where UNM has a field site. This is really a dream come true for me."
(Learn about the chimpanzees Enigk will be studying by logging on to http://kibalechimpanzees.wordpress.com/chimpanzees/.)
Enigk said his experience at Ohio State was also enriched by study abroad opportunities offered through CFAES, including trips to Mexico, Costa Rica and Australia. Additionally, in the fall of 2011, Enigk was one of five university-wide students selected to participate in the Brazil Research Exchange, a partnership between Ohio State's Honors and Scholars Program and the University of São Paulo. There, Enigk presented his study on Grevy's zebras and Somali wild asses.
In addition to the NSF fellowship that will fund his graduate studies, Enigk received a variety of recognitions during his last year at Ohio State, including the Board of Trustees Student Recognition Award, the Top 10 Senior Award from CFAES, and the university-wide Outstanding Senior Award (which recognizes the top 20 Buckeye seniors). He was also awarded first place in the 2012 CFAES Undergraduate Research Forum and earned the George R. Johnson Award, given annually to the senior in the Department of Animal Sciences with the highest GPA.
"I'd like to tell undergrads to keep an open mind about other fields and to make the best of the opportunities available at a big university, because it really pays off," Enigk said. "That is what drew me to Ohio State: the large network, having so many opportunities available, having other areas to expand into. I'm a big proponent of interdisciplinary work. It has helped me get where I am today."