July 06, 2021

Doing undergraduate research with faculty mentors led the way for Sam Silknetter ’14 to get experience presenting at academic conferences.

His main research project at Susquehanna examined the response of aquatic insects to severe flooding from Tropical Storm Lee in 2011.

“I continued collecting post-flood samples at five streams once a month for two full years. I then evaluated the response of the stream insects,” Silknetter says.

He also helped survey more than 400 streams to identify which ones had naturally reproducing populations of brook and brown trout and worked on a population study of redback salamanders.

Later, he had the chance to present this research at conferences. One of his most challenging, yet beneficial, experiences was at the Society for Freshwater Science National Meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, where he presented in front of professionals with master’s degrees and doctorates.

“This was extremely challenging, as they asked difficult questions, and were far more educated than a typical undergraduate audience. However, this was also the best learning experience, and this ‘trial by fire’ approach was hugely beneficial,” Silknetter says.

Silknetter says his professors prepared him well for these presentations. In addition to chances to practice presenting, he was encouraged to thoroughly study and understand his research.

“I am close with many faculty members and still look to them for occasional guidance, especially now as I begin applying to grad school,” Silknetter says.