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November / December 2003

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UMaine Today Magazine

Student Focus

Drawing Conclusions

Kathryn Apse
"The experience gave me a sense of what it's like to work in a research lab and know what scientists are looking for in these kinds of illustrations."
Kathryn Apse

Gustavo Burkett
"You don't need to be a leader to be a manager, but you have to be a good manager to be a good leader." Gustavo Burkett

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University of Maine biologist Seth Tyler has been studying primitive species of flatworms for eight years. In collaboration with post-doctoral researcher Matt Hooge and Wolfgang Sterrer of the Bermuda Aquarium and Zoo, Tyler is part of the National Science Foundation's PEET (Partnerships for Enhancing Expertise in Taxonomy) initiative. Their goal is to conduct a global survey of the worms' biodiversity, distribution and taxonomy to better understand their origins and their relationships to other major groups of invertebrates.

NSF funding also supports traineeships for the next generation of biologists, like Kathryn Apse of Reading, Mass. In Tyler's lab this summer, she learned about microscopy, database management and taxonomy methods no easy task considering the little-known animals are small enough to live between grains of sand.

"I have a whole new appreciation for small animals," says Apse, a senior in marine biology, a licensed scuba diver and member of the UMaine swim team for three years. "I learned how they interact and are classified by species. I know what tiny characteristics to look for, like muscle structure and organs."

Apse, who has a minor in studio art, used computer graphics to develop anatomical drawings of the worms for use on an interactive Web site and to construct images for a Web-based pictorial key to families of the group Acoela. Her schematics can be used to help identify the animals.

Apse is considering a career in scientific Web site design. This fall, she is an exchange student at the College of Charleston in South Carolina.

Managing leadership

Management and leadership are intrinsically linked, according to Gustavo Burkett, a University of Maine graduate student in the College of Education and Human Development who has an undergraduate degree in business administration.

"I base leadership on relationships," he says. "You don't need to be a leader to be a manager, but you have to be a good manager to be a good leader. A leader is someone who leads by example, encouraging others to act."

Those who know Burkett say he does just that. He is as gregarious as he is enterprising. His wide-ranging involvement on campus from membership on university and student boards and committees to leadership in UMaine's chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity speaks to his commitment to the community.

"I believe in living life to its full potential," Burkett says. "It feels good to do all I can every minute. I realize how much people have to offer me and me them."

Burkett first came to Maine as a shy exchange student from Argentina who spoke four words of English. He finished his senior year at John Bapst High School in Bangor, Maine, then returned home to attend college. In 1999, Burkett transferred to UMaine to study business administration. "I wanted something that would relate me to a lot of people," he says. As an undergraduate, his many responsibilities included working as the student administrative assistant in the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs.

Following graduation in 2002, Burkett was one of 12 young men selected to serve as regional directors for the national Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. As part of his duties, he visited 30 college campuses in the Midwest, meeting more than 3,000 students.

Based on his work with the fraternity on the national level, he received student affairs-related job offers from colleges in New Hampshire and Nebraska. This past summer, Burkett started his graduate work in student development in higher education.


UMaine Today Magazine
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