Turner gains unique experience in lab at National Zoo in D.C.

Release Date: 8/14/2013

Todd Turner, a junior from Hot Springs, Ark., spent a portion of his summer interning with the nutritional laboratory at the Smithsonian's National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C.

The biology major learned of the opportunity through Ozarks' Professor of Biology Dr. Frank Knight, who is renowned on campus for his research involving armadillos.

"One late night after capturing armadillos with Dr. Knight, he explained that he was going to be spending part of his spring and summer doing his own research involving armadillo milk in the nutrition lab at the National Zoo," Turner said. "He explained that, if I was able to get funding, he would be my adviser for my own project at the nutrition lab. I was instantly interested in being able to spend a few weeks of my summer in the nation's capital while learning lab techniques from professionals in the field."

Turner received funding through the University's Academic Enrichment Fund, a university award established to help qualified Ozarks students fund enriching educational opportunities through internships and study abroad.

With funding secured, Turner was able to spend two weeks working with the nutrition lab at the National Zoo and exploring the nation's capital on his downtime.

"My job at the National Zoo consisted of learning and performing many different laboratory procedures involving various animals' foods," Turner said. "In the lab I learned a lot of new techniques and lab protocol. The two weeks in the lab redefined my version of professionalism, which will carry over with me into my future jobs. After working in the lab all day, I enjoyed spending every other hour touring D.C. and seeing all the monuments and museums that I was able."

Turner, who plans to attend medical school after graduation, was extremely grateful for the opportunity to intern at one of the most prestigious zoos in the country, saying it's been a small part of a wonderful educational experience at Ozarks.

"I have grown in unimaginable ways since enrolling at Ozarks just two years ago," he said. "The experiences that Ozarks has made possible for me will aid me in all of my future endeavors. At Ozarks, everybody is part of one big family, and each person is there to help others reach their highest potential. It is a beautiful thing to be a part of."

Turner advises other students not to pass up any opportunity for new experiences.

"Take advantage of all of the opportunities that come your way, and always try new experiences no matter how absurd they initially seem. For example, when Dr. Knight asked me to help him catch armadillos for his research, I never would have expected it would lead me to a two-week lab experience at the National Zoo's nutrition lab. Long story short, the places that Ozarks can take you are endless, so take advantage of all of them," Turner said.

Todd Turner

Junior biology major Todd Turner spent two weeks recently as an intern in the nutritional laboratory at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, D.C.