Interview With KU BEARS Recipient Macy Turner

In the Summer of 2021, Macy Turner (BA Geography, Environmental Science track) was awarded a KU BEARS Grant to examine increased hospitalization from heat-related illnesses in urban heat islands. Macy completed her research under the guidance of Dr. Michael Davis, Department of Geography.

 What background information can you provide about your research?

I am studying urban heat islands and their effect on diabetes in Philadelphia, so my background is just that diabetes is an epidemic in this country. 10% of people in the United States are diagnosed with diabetes, the majority being Type 2 diabetes which is typically caused by eating and exercise habits. Very few people actually have the genetic type, so essentially I wanted to see if there was a correlation between heat and diabetes. I was always wondering, “there has to be more than just diet.” Obviously, the biggest factor is diet, but I was just wondering [about] some other effects that could be causing these high rates of diabetes. I also noticed that I mean not even just in Philadelphia, but rates of diabetes are higher in the South of the United States. Is heat contributing to that, so I was sort of wondering what was essentially leading to that.

 How will it contribute to your field of study?

I am going to be working in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in the future and an editor for the United States Geological Survey. I will have a GIS certificate, or at least I will be getting one [at the end of this semester] and using this has increased my GIS skills because essentially with this, I [developed a] lot of maps and I used a lot of LANDSAT 8 imagery, which is remote sensing,  like google satellite maps. So I got a Google Earth view, and I put them with a bunch of codes into a map, and I essentially shared it, so it definitely will help me because I solidified my knowledge with GIS and remote sensing.

 How has this experience contributed to your undergraduate and life goals?

This has contributed to my undergraduate education because this has, once again, really strengthened my use of GIS. I first took GIS classes in the Spring of 2020, and with Covid, that all went online and my GIS skills -they were okay- and then once online school happened, I had trouble focusing and my grades sorta went down. I didn’t understand the more advanced GIS skills, so the fact of me doing research has really just improved my skills from before. If I didn’t have the research, I probably would not be as talented or as good with the GIS software. I think the research definitely gave me a reason to increase my skills and to just have that motivation to get my maps done. It definitely will help me in the future because now I’m way more familiar with this software.

 Would you recommend the KU BEARS Grant Program to future students?

Oh my gosh, absolutely. As long as you show effort and you show that you really want it, you don’t have to be the smartest person in the room. You just have to have this drive and the drive of getting research done. That's what I love about Kutztown too: everyone has a chance to succeed here. You don't have to be top of your class or have the greatest grades in the world. If you show that effort in wanting to succeed, anyone can do it. I'm just so thankful to have this KU BEARS Grant because I did an internship last summer too, and that was unpaid. So the fact that I was getting some money to do the research definitely also motivated me to work on this. I would do this research for free, but getting the money really helped me buy groceries and to get gas because I occasionally had to travel from KU. I live in the Philadelphia area, so I had to occasionally travel up here, which definitely cost a lot with gas. Just having that money definitely made the experience worth it, and I would highly recommend KU BEARS to anybody.

 To learn more about the program please visit the KU BEARS.