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NECC Grad Spends Summer at Tufts Doing Research

Submitted by on August 8, 2012 – 2:34 pm
European wool-carder bee

European wool-carder bee

NECC Grad Steve Brown doing research at Tufts University.

NECC Grad Steve Brown doing research at Tufts University.

Steve Brown of Andover, who recently graduated from Northern Essex Community College with high honors and an associate degree in liberal arts, is spending his summer at Tufts University doing research full-time on the European wool-carder bee.

Brown is working under the tutelage of Tufts University Biology Professor Philip Starks with whom he shares much in common. The two have the same birthday, although not the same year; grew up in Andover; and are graduates of Northern Essex Community College.

After graduating from Northern Essex in 1991, Starks went on to earn his bachelor’s degree from Harvard, and his Ph.D. from Cornell. As a behavioral ecologist, he conducts research focusing on the adaptive significance of animal behavior.

Starks is particularly impressed with Brown, and points out that Steve had big shoes to fill. “We’ve run this program for 9 years now, and I’ve been the director the last 6. Steve is the 7th Northern Essex student to spend the summer researching with us. All have thrived in this environment, and Steve has done exceptionally well.”

Brown is assisting Starks with research on the European wool-carder bee and its interaction with local plants. Brown explains how plants, for example, can emit toxic chemicals when under attack by insects. Their team is studying how this particular bee responds to chemical emissions.

Calling the research “fascinating”, Brown says that it’s especially exciting because little is known about the European wool-carder bee.

Brown’s summer internship combines two of his passions: research and connecting with the natural environment. He will be back at Northern Essex in the fall to take additional classes but, after that, he plans to transfer to a four-year college or university and then, once he has his bachelor’s degree, travel around the world conducting research.

“I’m really hoping to work as a research scientist conducting field studies with a focus on conservation,” he says. “There’s a lot that needs to be done to promote environmental protection, and developing a deeper understanding of our environment is a crucial first step.”

In the science field, Northern Essex offers an associate degree in lab science and associate degrees in liberal arts with a biology or physical science concentration. For more information, contact enrollment services at or 978 556-3700.