Kelly Petersen

Major: Biology with a Concentration in Forensic Science

Minor: Mathematics

Volunteer Accomplishments

  • JFK Hospital
  • St. Andrew's Youth Group of Avenel

Educational Accomplishments

  • National honor Society
  • National Spanish Honor Society
  • National Art Honor Society


Currently, I hope to do as well as I can in all of my classes and learn from not only the Biology aspect of my studies, but the Criminal Justice aspect as well. In the future, I hope to move on to graduate school and obtain a Master’s degree in Forensic Science, and I intend to work in a forensics lab as a career, specifically with ballistic analysis. My favorite thing about being a Presidential Scholar is that I am able to meet so many people and establish connections and begin to network early in my academic career. I knew that Centenary College was the right school for me when I first visited it in my junior year of high school. The small campus and well-equipped faculty members make for a very family-oriented college experience, and I know that help will be there if I need it.

About Me

My favorite movies include the Harry Potter series, the Fast and Furious series, all Disney movies, and too many movies that are not part of a collection to mention. I enjoy listening to music while doing homework or just in my free time in general, including Bon Jovi, Theory of a Deadman, Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, Queen, Billy Joel, The Doors, and other country/classic rock artists. I read often and love going to the beach and spending time with my friends. My favorite quote at the moment (because it’s always changing) is “You can find me where the music meets the ocean” from the song Jump Right In by Zac Brown Band. 

Research Project

Parasitic Digenetic Trematode Diversity
in a Freshwater Ecosystem

Kelly Peterson, presidential scholar in the Mathematics and Natural Sciences Department, began a research project with Dr. Joseph Bucci, Assistant Professor of Biology investigating parasitic digenetic trematode diversity in a freshwater ecosystem.  Studies conducted during the fall semester revealed three distinct species of parasites that infect a species of Physa snail, using it as both a first and second intermediate host.  Kelly and Dr. Bucci have successfully established a laboratory reared colony of Physa snails to use in life cycle studies investigating infections of intermediate and definitive hosts by the Strigeid and Echinostome trematodes observed.  Kelly’s work will focus on the Echinostomes, which have been released from Physa snails and the intermolluscan stages of this parasite, the redia and metacercaria, have likewise been found in snail tissue.  Infection of snails of the genus Helisoma by Echinostoma trivolvis has been well described, with exclusivity of Helisoma as first intermediate hosts.  None of the Helisoma snails observed shed Echinostome cercariae.  Other species of Echinostomes such as E. revolutum have been described to infect three different genera of snails as both first and second intermediate hosts.  Thus, we will continue our studies throughout the spring to investigate if there is a documentable presence of E. revolutum in New Jersey or if E. trivolvis is capable of using Physa snails as a first intermediate host.

The Presidential Scholar Program is a tremendous asset for both Kelly and Dr. Bucci as it provides early access to research opportunities that science students so need and desire.  Kelly is being challenged to collect and analyze data, using that information to formulate and test hypotheses.  Furthermore, studies of host/parasite relationships serve as valuable indicators of environmental stressors in the overall condition of aquatic ecosystems.  This work also provides the foundation for a research program to be established at Centenary College for other Presidential Scholars as well as undergraduate students to work with research faculty members.