Tag Archives: Animal Science

Learning Outside the Classroom – Briana Bryson Study Abroad

Honors Students away from campus for study abroad, co-ops, or internships are encouraged to write about their experiences to share them with the Honors community. In the excerpt below, senior animal science major Briana Bryson ’17 describes her learning experiences—both in and out of the classroom—on her study abroad program to Japan.

By Briana Bryson –

During the fall of my junior year, I decided that my undergraduate experience wouldn’t be complete without a study abroad. I chose Japan as my destination, with food, language development, and the desire to experience a non-Western culture being my biggest motivators. I applied to a transfer credit program through the University Studies Abroad Consortium (USAC) and was accepted into the Nagasaki University of Foreign Studies (NUFS). With an enrollment of less than 700 students, the university is less than a quarter of the size of my old high school. Most of the students who go there are native Japanese students who are pursuing degrees in foreign languages, or international students, so I thought it would be the perfect environment for me to improve my skills in Japanese.

I consider my study abroad one of my best undergraduate experiences so far! There are few better ways to test your abilities to problem-solve than to travel to a country with a native tongue you can barely understand. Before my semester at NUFS began, I traveled around Japan on my own for a week, visiting various sites in Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara, and Osaka, and making use of their extensive railroad system.

Briana Bryson '17 in front of the Golden Pavilion in Kyoto
Briana Bryson ’17 in front of the Golden Pavilion in Kyoto

Considering how my poor my Japanese was at the time, looking back, I am amazed by how I managed to survive on my own for a week without even a reliable Internet connection to rely on!

Nagasaki is a beautiful coastal city described as one of the best natural harbors in the world. The modern city is a far cry from the scenes of destruction a Google image search is likely to come up with. The picture on a right is a photograph I took from a viewing deck near the city’s penguin aquarium, near the end of summer. 72% of the Japan is covered in mountains, and Nagasaki gives a good idea of how the country’s 120 + million people manage to make efficient use of the land.

Perhaps number one on the list of Nagasaki’s must-see sites is the 平和公園, or Peace Park. Built in order to remember the lives lost when the city was hit with an atomic bomb at the end of World War II, it lies in the center of the city just a short walk away from the bomb’s epicenter. It is a beautiful place to visit, possessing walkways adorned with flowers and artistic statues gifted to the city of Nagasaki from countries all over the world bearing messages of peace. The statue in the picture to the right faces the bomb’s epicenter. I learned from my Peace Studies professor that the arm extended outwards is meant to gesture towards the prosperity peace brings – the wealthy, modern city of Nagasaki – while the arm pointing upwards serves as a warning of the potential danger of future weapons of mass destruction

Believe it or not, studying actually took up a decent chunk of my study abroad. The Nagasaki University of Foreign Studies, or “Gai-dai”, as shortened from its Japanese name, was about an hour-long commute from my host family’s house via bus, and 20 minutes away if driving directly by car. It’s situated in a town called Togitsu, which lies north of Nagasaki. I took 16 hours’ worth of classes – Japanese 3, Peace Studies, Modern Japanese History (MJH), Introduction to Japanese Society (IJS), Kanji and Vocabulary 2&3, Tea Ceremony, Calligraphy, and Shogi. I am proud to say I only got one A! Such a statement may sound odd coming from an honors student, but the Japanese grading system is different from ours, with an S, corresponding to an A+, being the highest achievable grade. I was surprised when all of my classes, barring Peace Studies, MJH, and IJS, were taught in Japanese, but I quickly adapted and am grateful for the listening practice.

To read more about Bryson’s experience in Japan, check out the Study Abroad page of her Honors ePortfolio: https://sites.google.com/site/brianashonorseportfolio/study-abroad.


Animal science research, a zoo of activity for undergraduates

This summer students will have the opportunity to participate in Animal Sciences research with the help of HUR’s Summer Program in Undergraduate Research (SPUR).  SPUR funding will support a program titled, “Integrative Physiology: a Tool to Enhance Undergraduate Research Experience in Animal Science,” which will allow students to become immersed in a research project under the direction of three faculty members in the Department of Animal Science: Dr. Marcel Amstalden, Assistant Professor, Dr. Thomas Welsh, Professor, and Dr. Nancy Ing, Associate Professor.

Six to eight Animal Science students will work in teams of two and be assigned to investigate the effects of experimental treatments on physiological functions related to animal growth and development. Each team will evaluate the effects of treatment on organ structure and function at cellular and molecular levels, using traditional and state-of-the art methods available in the laboratories of the coordinators of this SPUR project. 

The students will work with faculty and graduate students performing assays such as; histo-morphological evaluation of endocrine organs, analysis of gene expression of key genes involved in growth and development, and analysis of hormone concentrations in blood samples.  At the end of their experience, students will prepare a report to share their results with the Integrative Physiology SPUR group and engage in coordinated discussions designed to integrate results obtained by all teams.  Students will also participate in the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) summer activities sponsored by HUR, including a public research poster session on July 31.

“We expect to stimulate critical thinking in our students, as well as train them in research so they can continue in undergraduate research after our program.  We also want this project to show the students the integration between cellular and whole-animal functions, through the learning of fundamental biological concepts for a better understanding of animal physiology,” said Amstalden.

Contact: Chrystina Rago, chrysrago@honors.tamu.edu