Alumnus: Biology M.S. ’16
As an undergraduate studying physics and biology, Katrina Whitlow caught the research bug in her first lab course. The object of her research desires: evolution and physiology.
When it came time to apply to master’s programs, she did what any good researcher would do. “I got on the Internet, found a professor who shared my interests, began emailing him, talked to him on the phone, and ended up flying to Baltimore to meet him at Towson University,” she explains.
Working closely with TU Professor Christopher Oufiero, Whitlow is looking at the effects of locomotion on swimming performance and efficiency in knife fish. “Knife fish don’t appear to expend a lot of energy, they are very energy efficient at low speeds,” describes Whitlow. “We are testing their metabolic rates and overall performance as they move.” Their unique “ribbon fin” swimming modes could have implications for the development of future robotics systems and unmanned autonomous vehicles.
“Towson University exceeded all expectations for my research experiences,” says Whitlow, who presented her work at the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology National Meeting, where she made valuable contacts with faculty at other institutions. “I attribute my success to experiences here at Towson University,” says Whitlow, who is now pursuing a doctoral degree at The University of Chicago.
She still recalls her earliest master’s experience. “I remember trying to set up my first experiment at Towson University, but an important piece of lab equipment kept breaking. Finally, I figured out how to work around the problem and conduct the experiment,” Whitlow explains. “That is what science and research are all about — always new challenges to explore.”