Kira Turnham wins the 2015 Honors College Scholarship for International Research

Congratulations to Kira Turnham, our 2015 Honors College Scholarship Recipient!! Kira_Scholarship winner

If you are bobtail squid living off the coast of the Philippines your most threatening predators often sneak up on you from deep below the ocean’s surface. In the bright sunlight of the Pacific ocean your silhouette against the water’s surface can literally be a dead give-away to your location. Over many generations, bobtail squid have evolved an amazing form of camouflage to defeat their aquatic predators– a special light emitting organ that allows them to blend in with the bright sunlight on the surface of the ocean.

Kira Turnham, a junior Biology major, has been studying these amazing light emitting squid while working in Dr. Michele Nishiguchi’s laboratory in the Department of Biology. As a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Research Scholar, Kira has acquired a lot of laboratory experience ranging from molecular analysis techniques to genetic sequencing. With the help of the Honors College Scholarship Kira will now be able to take her experience out of the lab and into the field.

Tim Ketelaar, Associate Dean in the NMSU Honors College remarked “This year we received five amazingly creative proposals ranging from a Civil Engineering research project in Japan to research on Modernist Art in Spain and the United Kingdom. Among these impressive proposals Kira’s project stood out as a promising research plan that could serve as a launch pad for a superb honor thesis when she returns to campus next fall.
As the 2015 recipient of the Honors College Scholarship Kira will receive $5,000 in funding to support her travel and research this summer in the Philippines.”
Dr. Nishiguchi noted: “Kira’s project in the Philippines is a natural extension to the molecular work she is completing in my laboratory. It will be a wonderful opportunity for her to go into the field to observe and visit the natural habitat where these creatures live.”

As a biology major with minors in Conservation Ecology and Biochemistry, Kira hopes to use her Honors College Scholarship as a stepping stone toward graduate study in marine-related science. In the immediate term, Kira is hoping to translate her Scholarship research experience into an Honors Thesis next year.

“I am honored and excited about the opportunity provided by the Honors College to conduct scientific research internationally. I am eagerly looking forward to broadening my horizons and representing both NMSU and the U.S. in the Philippines,” Kira shared.

The NMSU Honors College Scholarship provides an NMSU student with an unique opportunity for a self-designed international travel and research experience. This experience ideally helps prepare these students to apply for other prestigious scholarships such as the Marshall, Rhodes, Gates-Cambridge, and Fulbright scholarships during their senior year. Past Honors College Scholars have travelled to interesting field sights ranging from Malawi to Bolivia to the Czech Republic.

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