September 13, 2021

Right at home

Biology major finds perfect fit at UW-Superior

Aidan Doherty’s quest to better understand the natural world will start at the University of Wisconsin-Superior.

Doherty grew up in the village of Wild Rose, Wis., population 725. Coming from a small town, he wanted to attend a college where he wouldn’t get lost in the crowd. When he learned about UWS at a college fair, he said, “It sounded perfect for me.”

“I liked the idea of having a smaller community,” he said. “It’s a lot more close-knit and personal. I also loved the area a lot. We vacationed up there plenty of times. I love Lake Superior.”

Aidan Doherty signing day

Doherty, a cross-country and track and field athlete, toured the campus and met coach Glen Drexler. “He was such a big help with the whole process,” he said. The visit confirmed his college choice. “I met the team and talked to everyone on campus. Everybody was super helpful. It’s been a very enjoyable experience.”

Following his parents’ footsteps

Not only was his college an easy choice, Doherty said, but his major was as well. His parents both majored in biology and minored in ecology at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. His mom previously worked for the Missouri Department of Conservation, and his dad is a soil conservation scientist. Doherty plans to follow in their footsteps and study biology.

“From a very young age, I’ve always been around science,” he said. “I love my parents, and they have had a lot of influence on that. As a scientist, you can have a greater understanding of the world and how it works, and much more appreciation for it. I want to see the world through the eyes of my parents. Now I get to have that opportunity.”

Doherty hasn’t quite settled on his future career plans, but he would like to work in conservation or wildlife resources.

A Swenson Scholar

Given his academic goals, Doherty was thrilled to find out he’d been awarded the Swenson Scholarship. Each year, the award goes out to eight incoming freshmen of academic merit and financial need who are majoring in chemistry, biology, math or computer science. It has been Doherty’s dream ever since he learned the scholarship existed.

“I’d been hoping for the best, staying up late at night thinking about [the Swenson Scholarship]. When I found out I got it, it was immediately a life changer. My family and I really appreciate it. It’s what we always hoped for, and I can’t begin to say how appreciative I am.”

The scholarship eased Doherty’s worries about burdening his family with the cost of tuition, especially when his younger sister will be ready to start her own college journey in just two years. She hasn’t decided where she’s going, but Doherty has an idea.

“I’m working on her,” he said.

The University of Wisconsin-Superior biology program offers a small, supportive environment with access to investigative opportuniteis in the classroom, field and lab that are often only found at much larger research institutions. Students have hands-on research opportunities beginning their first year, and develop meaningful connections with faculty and fellow students. The following areas of focus are available: cell/molecular biology, ecology, aquatic biology, fishery studies, plant sciences, and pre-med/health.

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