Bailey Gensheimer graduates in May with a BS in zoology, and she is armed for an exceptional research career. The undergraduate from Lexington, Kentucky, won fellowships and grants that funded field trips to Kentucky and Kenya to do independent research on the spiny mouse, a most unusual creature. She also served the Department of Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology as outreach coordinator, TA and peer mentor.
Why Ohio State?
I chose Ohio State because it's got a great zoology program and is one of the best schools for undergraduate research in the U.S. I love that there is something for everyone at Ohio State; no matter who you are or where you come from, you can find something that fits.
Why did you choose your area of research?
I sort of stumbled upon the spiny mouse by accident. In high school I read an article about them; then my sophomore year at Ohio State, my advisor helped me contact the paper’s author, who allowed me to run experiments in his lab in Kentucky. Everything just continued from there.
What was it like to do fieldwork in Kenya?
Kenya was absolutely amazing; we were at the University of Nairobi most of the time. It was a whole new experience being in a lab where materials weren't readily accessible. My first real field experience was a week at Mpala Research Center. I loved everything about it — getting up at 5 a.m. to pick up traps we had set the night before, running experiments throughout the day, going for nature drives/hikes, and setting the traps again, right before sunset. Kenya was unbelievably beautiful. I would love to go back, and to other places around the world!
After conducting research in Kentucky & Kenya, this zoology major is prepared for an exceptional career #ASCDaily
Are you finding things that surprise you?
I'm constantly surprised — not only about the spiny mouse, but about everything. Nature can be beautiful or cruel or absolutely insane, and often all of them! I love investigating something and coming up with more questions than answers. It's a never-ending cycle of discovery. I love science, because it is always surprising me.
What makes the spiny mouse special?
The spiny mouse is interesting because of its amazing regenerative ability. Their weak skin rips off when they are grabbed by a predator, but they can regenerate their skin, hair follicles and sweat glands in approximately 30 days. They are the only mammal that can do this, which makes them extraordinary.
What are your after-graduation plans?
I plan on taking a gap year before grad school to get some experience in the field and have a bit of a break from school. I'm looking at several research internships involving different animal models, because when else am I going to have the time to explore whatever I want?
How has Ohio State has prepared you for your future?
Ohio State has been great for me. I wouldn't have chosen any other university. I received a top education, made lifelong friends, and was able to investigate my own research ideas as an undergrad, which wouldn't be possible at some other universities. If anyone wants to get involved in research early in their college career, Ohio State is the place to be.