CU Alumna Published in National Science Magazine

By Ashley Zsedenyi, staff writer

CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. – After living in a science lab for three days, looking in a microscope every 15 minutes, then every couple of hours, the extensive research of one Campbellsville University graduate has paid off – by having her research published in a national science journal.

Gretchen Walker, a 2005 graduate of Campbellsville University, was recently published in the national publication “American Currents,” which is the North American Native Fishes Association’s quarterly magazine that features articles on North American fishes and their habitats, as well as other news and information.

Walker, of Titusville, Fla., received a bachelor of science in biology with a minor in environmental science. As part of her degree studies, she initiated research of a species of fish in an Adair County creek, and the research was completed during a second year.

The article titled “End of Life Behavior in the Mountain Brook Lamprey” details Walker’s research of the lamprey in Russell Creek and presents information on “behavior, length, weight and post-spawning lifespan.”

Her complete research included in-vitro fertilization and embryology of the Mountain Brook Lamprey, as well as the end of life behavior.

two people at pond
Gretchen Walker, pictured at right, and Dr. Gordon Weddle returned to Russell Creek in Adair County to release about 2,000 baby fish created through in-vitro fertilization during a research project for Walker’s degree program. (CU Photo submitted)

Walker said she “really enjoyed the research and the outcome,” so she immediately began writing a manuscript of her research “to be submitted to a science journal for review.”

“It is very difficult to get a paper published in science journals because they are reviewed by three peers. Many people will spend years trying to get their manuscript paper published,” she said.

“I had submitted my paper at least five times, to three different science journals, and had it returned four times for revisions. Finally, I was accepted when I got to the third science journal,” Walker said.

During the process of reviewing and revising, she said she separated the original paper into two articles. One article was published, but she said the original paper, which is on the in-vitro fertilization and embryology, will be published in the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA) Proceedings in January 2009.

“I was extremely excited to have the paper published. My kids were so excited they each took a copy of it to school,” she said.

“I thank Dr. (Gordon) Weddle…and the science department at Campbellsville University for support and assistance during this research,” Walker said.

Walker said she believes her education “served many purposes” for herself and her family.

She received an associate of arts degree, with honors, from Metropolitan Community College in Nebraska in May 2001.

“I was aiming for medical school and did get accepted in 2001 to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke combined pre-med program,” Walker said, but “God had other plans for me.”

She said her husband was unable to find a job in the area, so she did not go to North Carolina. Instead they moved to Florida near her husband’s family before enrolling at Campbellsville University and moving to Kentucky.

She said she chose Kentucky because she was starting to have neurologic symptoms, which were thought to be caused by multiple sclerosis since she had family history of the condition.

Walker said she thought moving to a colder climate would help her symptoms, but it actually made her symptoms worse, so she and her family returned to Florida upon her graduation from CU.

She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in fall 2006, and at one point lost her sight and was unable to do anything for herself.

She began regaining her sight and physical abilities in the spring of 2007, then that fall she was faced with another obstacle – she tested positive for the BRACA 2 breast cancer gene, which led to a double mastectomy and reconstruction in addition to a total hysterectomy.

“Needless to say, I am not currently working, but am much busier than I would be if I were actually employed by someone. I am totally involved with my children and their school activities as well as volunteering full time with missions and presenting full-time giving breast cancer awareness presentations to people of all ages sometimes on my own and sometimes with the assistance of others,” Walker said.

“I did love going to college and I loved that my kids were able to see what it takes to be a student and to overcome the medical obstacles that were presented while I was a student,” she said.

Until she is able to work in her field of study, she said she plans to “continue to love God’s current calling in my life – being a mom and wife first, walking with women on breast cancer issues and volunteering where the need is the highest.”

“I am very happy where God has me right now. He knows the best places for us to be,” she said.

Walker is a 1991 graduate of Broad Ripple High School in Indianapolis, Ind.

She and her husband, Chip, have two children, TJ and Ashley.

Campbellsville University is a private, comprehensive institution located in South Central Kentucky. Founded in 1906, Campbellsville University is affiliated with the Kentucky Baptist Convention and has an enrollment of 2,601 students who represent 93 Kentucky counties, 27 states and 31 foreign nations. Listed in U.S.News & World Report’s 2009 “America’s Best Colleges,” CU is ranked 22nd in “Best Baccalaureate Colleges” in the South for the second consecutive year. CU has been ranked 16 consecutive years with U.S.News & World Report. The university has also been named to America’s Best Christian Colleges®. Campbellsville University is located 82 miles southwest of Lexington, Ky., and 80 miles southeast of Louisville, Ky. Dr. Michael V. Carter is in his tenth year as president.

Chat with us x