In Biology 120: Integrative Biology, I had my very first exposure to an experiment where I had to use data to present my findings from an experiment in order to draw conclusions about plant growth. We used Wisconsin fast plants in lab to document the plant’s growth with and without fertilizer in addition to the number of leaves on each plant over time. This project was a great starting point to introduce me to the process of data collection that I would soon use in many future classes. I was only responsible for learning how to count leaves and measure plant height for this experiment, but soon I was responsible for much more comprehensive data collection.
Sophomore year, I took Biology 251: Intro to Ecology and Evolution with Dr. Ellis. This class gave me immense exposure to data collection and analysis through the use of descriptive statistics. Our group compiled point bird count collection data on a variety of bird species in three notable regions of Virginia. We analyzed the Tidewater, Valley & Ridge, and Piedmont regions to determine whether bird population counts were declining due to a lack of point counts being recorded, or if there were external factors that might have attributed to declines. We created a comprehensive data set that included ANOVAs and other descriptive statistics (including t-tests) to draw conclusions on our data. Overcoming the initial hardships with learning data interpretation was difficult, but I am glad that this class gave me a good introduction to this topic.
In my upper level biology courses, data analysis was similar, including descriptive statistics and ANOVAs but were applied to more advanced topics. In Biology 404: Immunology, we analyzed complement levels in example patients to determine what complement deficiencies they had in order to properly diagnose patients. We completed this work with an ELIZA lab analysis. This project was an excellent introduction for me into the type of health data analyses I will be completing on patients in pharmacy school following graduation. Now, I feel very comfortable running t-tests, z-tests, and ANOVAs in order to draw conclusions.