A young woman from near the Iroquois County village of Claytonville, Miriam Schmid is doing ecological research at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago about a Mediterranean crab that is wrecking havoc in American coastal waters as an invasive species.
That involves 5 to 10 hours per week for the IIT senior.
She also spends 12 to 15 hours per week tutoring other students in the academic resource center.
She has won the IIT distinguished student service award two years running. She has been the chief justice of the student government association, resolving student grievances. She has been president of the Student Government Association and the Student Union and vice president of the Greek Council.
A senior finishing a degree in biochemistry and mathematics and science education, she plans to get a master's degree and work in ecology for a while, then dedicate herself to teaching, specifically with the idea of inspiring young people to pursue careers in science and to combat one of the great deficiencies of urban minds — knowledge of agriculture
So, you have an idea of why she was one of the Lincoln Academy's Student Laureate winners earlier this month.
The academy awards the laureate medallion and a $1,000 education grant to one senior in each of 52 senior college and universities in the state and one from all the state's community colleges.
Miriam is the third of seven children of Aaron and Esterjean Schmid.
"Growing up on a farm was really instrumental in getting me interested in ecology and science — all the things involved in farming," she said.
In addition to appreciating that basis of agriculture, she learned farm work. "My dad made sure I knew how to drive everything — tractors, combine, whatever my (four) brothers were driving, I was driving too."
She also worked in her father's farm drainage business.
At IIT, her chemical ecology research into the invasive crab from the Mediterranean is ironically in the "CRABlab," which is not specifically about crabs but is the Creative Research in Animal Behavior Laboratory.
She is investigating in a direction with familiar language to farmers — development of an "integrated pest management system" to drive them away from regions they are infesting "all down the Atlantic and Pacific coasts where they compete with native species, costing millions of dollars every year" in fisheries' resources, including oysters.
"I want to work in ecology for a few years, but I am really passionate about education and want to pursue a career in education and change the way science is taught," she said. She will be student teaching in math and science in the spring term.
So, how does she want to change science education?
"I want to expose students to what scientists actually do and get them involved in the process of actively doing science," she said, adding that students actually doing science would be more likely to become scientists.