Voices of student science


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By | Kelly Bessem


Voices of student science aims to highlight individual Humboldt State students majoring within the widespread realm of the sciences.


Alycia Padilla is a 27-year-old wildlife major from Bakersfield, Calif.

Alycia Padilla, wildlife major. Photo by Kelly Bessem.

Padilla’s desire to protect and take care of animals helped her choose her major.

“When I was a child I was only allowed to watch television like National Geographic and Discovery Channel,” Padilla said. “That became all I wanted to watch and I fell in love with animals.”

Last summer, Padilla set camera traps and collected recordings of bat sounds as part of a decade-long ecological survey. She worked with the California Department of Fish and in the mountains near Sacramento, Calif. 

Though Padilla wants to get a job in Arcata after graduating, she has considered moving back to Bakersfield because she believes the area needs more wildlife expertise.

“I feel like I could make some sort of change there,” Padilla said.


Sarah Franzen, 26, is a senior marine biology major. She’s originally from Lake Havasu, Ariz.

Sarah Franzen, marine biology major, holding sea fan coral. Photo by Kelly Bessem.

Franzen’s love for the ocean began with television shows such as “Planet Earth.”

“That’s when I first decided that I wanted to learn how to scuba dive,” Franzen said. “So I got certified when I was 14.”

It wasn’t until Franzen’s freshman year in college that she saw the ocean for herself. It was during a dive trip for Dixie State University in St. George, Utah.

“That’s when I really fell in love with the ocean,” Franzen said.

Last semester, Franzen worked in HSU’s Paul E. Bourdeau Lab making wax snails that are used for crab surveys.

After graduating, Franzen will study manta rays in Australia and contemplate applying to masters programs.


Erica Siepker, 27, is a wildlife major and scientific diving minor from Long Beach, Calif.

Erica Siepker, wildlife major and scientific diving minor. Photo by Kelly Bessem.

Siepker was originally a zoology major but switched to wildlife after discussing her interests with a Humboldt State advisor. 

“For me the wildlife degree had more practical, hands-on aspects that would take me beyond taxonomy and lab,” Siepker said. “Little did I know that HSU’s wildlife program was so widely known.”

Siepker experiences many hands-on wildlife studies within her classes. These include the use of raptor perches to combat gopher problems, the relation between crows and human food sources and the habitat selection of salamanders in the Arcata Community Forest.

Siepker plans to apply for an internship at Disney’s Animal Kingdom after graduating.

“With an internship there I can study animal behavior, wildlife education and research,” Siepker said.

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