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Hendrix Student Spends Summer as Smithsonian Intern

Thurman at Work StationCONWAY, Ark. (July 2, 2014) – This summer, Jessa Thurman, a rising junior from Hot Springs, is interning at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

“The Smithsonian is amazing,” Thurman said. “We go on tours of different collections each week. For example, I've been through their gems and mineral collections, meteorites, mammals, and even took a class on scientific illustration. There are so many things going on here, from public programs to innovative research.”

“I really know now that I want to pursue entomology because even though I'm working 40 hours a week on a microscope, I still love these wasps,” she added. “In fact, I'm even more passionate about them now.”

One of her summer internship advisors is Hendrix alumnus Dr. Mike Gates, a U.S.D.A. hymenopterist who studies wasps. Thurman’s Hendrix faculty internship sponsor is biology professor Dr. Maureen McClung, a 2001 Hendrix alumna.

“My supervisors are better than I could have dreamed,” Thurman said. “You can tell they are ridiculously intelligent and even though they've been studying these wasps for about 14 years they are really passionate about them and patient when teaching you simple identification techniques.”

“I've been talking with Mike about returning to do more exclusive work on Superfamily Chalcidoidea,” she said. “I've recently worked up to sorting through Joshua Tree National Park samples from there and will start identifying microscopic wasps to species and those that I find which haven't been identified yet are probably new species, which I can claim for my own. That would mean Gates would save them for me to return to next summer, then I could work on publishing a paper on these new wasps. How cool is that?”

Founded in 1876, Hendrix College is a national leader in engaged liberal arts and sciences education. For the sixth consecutive year, Hendrix was named one of the country’s “Up and Coming” liberal arts colleges by U.S. News and World Report.  Hendrix is featured in the latest edition of Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think about Colleges, as well as the 2014 Princeton Review’s The Best 378 Colleges, Forbes magazine's list of America's Top Colleges, and the 2014 Fiske Guide to Colleges. Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. For more information, visit