The Wolfpack Abroad: The Research Pack of Summer 2019 in Spain

From left to right: Bartolome Cisneros, Alexandra Veverka, and Cristobal Cisneros at the Universitat Politècnica de València.

WRITTEN BY Jennifer Terlouw,

This past summer, CALS students Bartolome Cisneros, Cristobal Cisneros, Kelsey Kolar, Eric Schneider, and Alexandra Veverka made the long trek to Spain to participate in international research programs through Research Pack Abroad for two months of rigorous study. This program allowed these students to conduct research through host institutions in other countries, creating opportunities for both the exchange of scientific ideas and a cultural and linguistic immersion in an unfamiliar setting; an equally academic and social challenge for the student participants. 

Alexandra, Bartolome and Cristobal were given the opportunity to study at the Universitat Politècnica de València, working firsthand to contribute to the body of ongoing research at the university while also living full time in Valencia, Spain. In Alexandra’s summer postings on the CALS website, she described a stimulating environment of both fascinating plant science field work that extended her research horizon and the enriching experience of learning to communicate with the new people that she met. Alexandra’s June 12th post included a perfect summary of her time traversing new cultural territory: 

“The genuine desire that Valencia has to understand more and to communicate with me has given me more passion for understanding their predominant language better and inspired me to not be so scared to mess up, but to jump right in and try my best.”

Cristobal and Bartolome similarly reported great experiences in their own individual research areas. Bartolome described visiting a few vineyards as part of his enology research, learning about their individual methods of fermentation and wine storage as well as the environment of agritourism present in Spain’s vineyards. He was also able to explore the cultural and historical context of a nearby town; Xativa, with fellow pack member, Alexandra. Cristobal joined Bartolome in enjoying the local cuisine, Valencia’s night markets, and was intrigued by the cultural and ethnic diversity of the city. Cristobal’s work with soil moisture lead him to a better understanding of the history and migration of the chufa plants he used for study, giving him a larger contextual background around which to shape his research. 


Overlooking the Ría de Villaviciosa on the way to the Instituto de Productos Lácteos de Asturias – CSIC

While the other three CALS scholars enjoyed their time in sunny, coastal Valencia, Kelsey Kolar and Eric Schneider took up residence in Villaviciosa, Asturias, Spain to work with the Instituto de Productos Lácteos de Asturias – CSIC. Kelsey and Eric both reported on their experiences in vivid detail, citing moments of proud linguistic growth from speaking to the locals and the beautiful sight of the Ría de Villaviciosa as part of their everyday commute, rushing endlessly to the Bay of Biscay. Academically, Kelsey was able to prove her research hypothesis and come to compelling conclusions about antibiotic resistance genes working alongside the scientists at the IPLA. She was proud to bring her work back to NC State with her at the end of her stay and, in her own words: 

“I cannot begin to explain how grateful I am for the opportunity to conduct research abroad. My time in Spain has allowed me to learn about the culture, meet new friends, establish strong work relations with IPLA-CSIC and the employees, and grow as an individual.”

Eric also found new conclusions in his anti-microbial research as well as assisting others at the IPLA with their own experiments. The interpersonal connections Eric made at the institute gave him both great work experiences and insight into the lifestyle of Villaviciosa and neighboring city, Oviedo.  He was able to sum up his experience studying abroad in succinct, genuine terms:

“Good company, good eats, good work.”

Research Pack Abroad offers CALS students the means to not only expand and round out their academic character, but to also explore new places, learn about unfamiliar history and customs, and to expand their worldviews. The Research Pack is able to work with some of the most talented scientists in their field of interest, to continue the exchange of scientific terminology and ideas across cultures and languages and learn the nuance of tackling complicated challenges out in the field. 

If you are interested in learning more about CALS study abroad opportunities, reading more about the Spain 2019 group’s experiences, or both, please visit the Study Abroad and Research Pack Abroad pages on our CALS website: