Student Forum

02/16/17

Chelsea Zoltowski shares gecko research

“I learned teamwork makes dreams work,” said Chelsea Zoltowski, a junior chemistry major from Sylvania, Ohio, during her Forum presentation “Sticky Geckos: My Research Experience Studying Gecko Adhesion” on Feb. 7 in Musselman Library.

The saying may be corny, but it’s something Zoltowski learned on the softball field and applied during a Research Experience for Undergraduates program at the University of Akron during the summer of 2016. Zoltowski was part of a team that used biomimicry to study geckos.

“Being involved in so many different groups and being able to bounce my ideas off others as well as give input to them really enhanced my research,” said Zoltowski.

Biomimicry is a way of imitating nature to improve or solve problems in the world. For example, Zoltowski’s research team sought to learn more about the lizards’ ability to stick on walls and ceilings in warm climates. Figuring out how geckos stick could lead to innovations in dry adhesives.

“Questions about a gecko’s ability to stick onto surfaces like this goes back to Aristotle,” said Zoltwoski. “So this is something that has intrigued scientists for a very long time.”

And while Zoltowski was gaining valuable knowledge for her major, she learned about a variety of fields during the eleven-week study.

“I wasn’t just studying chemistry all summer, I was doing chemistry and physics and interacting with the biology people,” she said. “When my peers and I would hang out the topics of discussion would be our projects, which was something completely new to me,” she said.

As her experience came to a close, Zoltowski had a revelation about the field of science. “I learned that science is everywhere,” she said. “I realized that going in as a chemistry major, but after listening to my peer’s presentations and doing my own, I realized everywhere you look there’s science.”

Zoltowski brought the lessons learned this summer back to Bluffton. She developed a love for the area of biomimicry and a love for geckos in the process. She even plans to get a pet gecko of her own in the future!

Zoltowski plays first base on the Bluffton softball team and was named an Academic All-HCAC honoree in 2016.

-B-