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Student Earns Paid Research Fellowship

Posted: November 4, 2013

Summer school can have its perks, just ask Western Nevada College student Elana Ketchian.

Ketchian was awarded a paid National Science Foundation research fellowship this summer at the University of Nevada, Reno. She conducted the NSF-EPSCoR research project at the lab of UNR professor Laurel Saito.

She learned about the scholarship opportunity through chemistry professor Mike Sady, who retired from teaching at WNC last spring but has taken a part-time advisory role for students in the Nevada System of Higher Education.

"For other students that wish to seek a fellowship, I would encourage them to get in contact with their professors and ask them if there are any projects they may work on which relates to their future career," Ketchian said.

Ketchian's research work focused on evaluating the utility of pressure transducers at wildlife water developments.

"I learned so much from the experience of the project, including how to input and analyze data in Excel," she said. "I created statistical regression graphs, double bar graphs and line graphs, all by using Excel."

Ketchian also learned how the guzzler system or storage tank functions with climate monitoring equipment and how a wildlife camera is installed, as well as being able to observe the function of wildlife water developments.

The summer research project provided Ketchian with a fresh perspective for the future.

"The fellowship has given me confidence in learning new material and it has inspired me to become more involved in projects with a mentor, where I can actively participate in a field of study of my interest," she said.

Ketchian is working on her associate of science degree at WNC, then plans to pursue a bachelor's degree in wildlife ecology and conservation at UNR.

To learn more about Ketchian's and others' research work, go to

Ketchian's project and fellowship information will be part of a presentation, “A Morning or Evening with Bright Stars,” 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 15, at Jack C. Davis Observatory or from 10 a.m. to noon on Nov. 16 at the same location.