An Undergraduate Intern's Summer at SimBio

photo of claire josh and izzy

I'm turning my blog over to Claire Drysdale, an undergraduate at UNC, Chapel Hill. After using SimUText as a student, Claire contacted us to see if we would consider hosting her as a summer intern. She wrote, "I used your software during an ecology and evolution class as a sophomore, and I was impressed by its content, visual appeal, and educational effectiveness." Clearly, she is an exceptionally perceptive and insightful person! How could we say no? It was truly a joy having Claire join our Graphics team in Missoula for the summer. We expect big things from her in the future. Maybe if we're super lucky, she'll be back after graduate school! Here's what she had to share about her experience.

-Eli Meir

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Hi there, my name is Claire, and I'm a rising senior at UNC Chapel Hill, pursuing majors in biology and studio art.

For the past 9 weeks, I've been working as SimBio's first undergraduate intern in their Missoula office. I've primarily been with the design team, creating new welcome scenes for existing modules and graphics for new supplementary materials, hunting for photographs that convey key topics, and making some of the assets that appear in interactive features and animations. I also contributed my perspective as student, artist, and biologist to many of our other current projects, such as revamping our Climate Change module, testing updates to the new Understanding Experimental Design module and adapting graphing exercises for more flexible classroom use.

I first used SimBio materials while taking an ecology and evolution class at UNC, and I was amazed at how fun and engaging my biology homework suddenly was. Performing virtual experiments and directly manipulating parameters in simulations was an empowering, and lasting, way to learn. SimBio came to mind while I was searching for a summer internship last spring and I approached them about the possibility of joining their team. My interests are in art and science, and helping to design SimBio's visual world seemed like the perfect application of my skills.

SimBio has never had an undergraduate intern before, but I think it's safe to say that this has been a mutually beneficial arrangement (or should I say, symbiotic?). The talented scientists and graphic designers here have taught me so much about biology, design, and educational theory, and they have enjoyed having a student voice in the room. Missoula has also been an exciting place to think about biology, since some of the world's most incredible natural parks are less than a day's drive away. The food webs in our Community Dynamics module literally came alive when I saw bison, elk, and wolves in Yellowstone, and the principles of succession outlined in Ecosystem Ecology were at work all around me when I hiked in the Bitterroot Wilderness.

While I'm sad to be leaving, I'm looking forward to returning to my biology courses this fall with a fresh perspective on science and the learning process in general. If you are a teacher with students who have unusual combinations of interests, I hope you will encourage them to think outside the box and seek out opportunities that allow them to explore and develop their unique skills and perspectives.

- Claire Drysdale, Undergraduate student majoring in Studio Art and Biology; University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

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