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Aryan Shrestha
Sam Bauer spent most of his childhood outside and developing a love for wildlife. 

“Ever since I was young, I loved exploring in the woods, flipping over logs and rocks, trying to find interesting animals,” he says. 

It’s no surprise that the Alexandria, Kentucky native chose biology—with a focus on ecology, evolution and organismal studies—as his major when he began attending Northern Kentucky University. 

Sam came to NKU because it was close to home, but he stayed for professors like Dr. Richard Durtsche.

"I’m getting closer and closer to achieving my goals of getting the chance to work with animals and educate the public."

“He has pushed me to go beyond my comfort zone and has helped me see my full potential,” Sam says. 

After Sam began working in Dr. Durtsche’s lab, he quickly became lab manager and was in charge of all the lab animals used for teaching and research. Since then, Sam has established himself as a budding expert in his field. He’s presented his research at NKU’s Celebration of Undergraduate Research and Creativity, the Kentucky Academy of Sciences (KAS) meeting and the Ohio River Basin Consortium for Research and Education (ORBCRE) meeting. Sam and his co-undergraduate researchers won first place in a highly competitive zoology section three years in a row. Last fall, at the ORBCRE meeting, he won first place in undergraduate research award for among all disciplines.

“It has been my delight to have Sam as a student in the classroom and on my researchteam. Sam is mature, independently minded and motivated with the intellectual potential to carry out a solid and creative research program in graduate school,” Dr. Durtsche says. “He is well rounded in his capacity to take leadership roles in a variety of different situations while maintaining high scholarly activity and devoting time to scientific research. His experience from the classroom, laboratory and the field make him well prepared to be a scientist and biologist.” 

Outside of the lab, Sam volunteered at NKU’s Research and Field Station educating visitors about Kentucky reptiles and amphibians. 

One of his favorite memories, he recalls, was studying abroad in Costa Rica on an alternative spring break trip.

“It was an amazing experience being able to be enriched with their culture and also getting a chance to conduct research in the rainforest, dry forest and the Cloud Forest,” he says. 

As Sam wraps up his final semester, he’s grateful for the experiences he’s had at NKU and hopes to pursue a career in wildlife conservation and rehabilitation. 

“I’m getting closer and closer to achieving my goals of getting the chance to work with animals and educate the public,” he says.