Biology student has an eye for creative writing

Jillian Holness

Researching invasive species, collecting seed pods and developing a plot line for a fantasy story — Kent State biology major Sophia Zaynor has an eye for both science and creative writing.

As a senior, Zaynor does her best to balance time between her two passions. She has missed several meetings of a student organization called Writer’s Workshop to do lab work.

“She’ll go off the radar for awhile and then she’ll text you back and she’ll be like, ‘Oh my God, I’m so sorry, I like haven’t slept in four days’,” Devon Matt, a junior English major, said.

Zaynor is also a member of STEM scholarship club, Catholic Student Association and was a biology tutor. She has been a member of Writer’s Workshop since her freshman year.

“She’s passionate about the whole idea of Writer’s Workshop and giving students a place where they can share and improve their writing,” Kimberly Winebrenner, a faculty advisor, said.

Writer’s Workshop is a small group. It started out with 12 members in the fall and died down with four this semester, Matt said.

The meetings are held every Tuesday in Satterfield Hall and consist of writing prompts and sharing any pieces members are working on.

“It’s a great place to get your ideas and they won’t get suppressed or judged,” Gerald Wilson, the former president of Writer’s Workshop and junior English major said.

Wilson explained Writer’s Workshop as a safe place for students to bounce ideas off each other and a place to offer input. It is something helpful for a writer, he said.

Zaynor has been writing since she was seven-years-old.  

“My first story was about a girl who could talk to animals and got super powers from the tooth fairy,” Zaynor said.

Her favorite genres are antasy and sci-fi. She admires authors Suzanne Collins and Michael Crichton.

“He (Crichton) was a medical doctor, so I’m thinking (if) he could have two jobs, so can I,” Zaynor said.

Zaynor said she chose to major in biology as opposed to English because of the job prospects.

“I’ve always liked science, even when I was a little kid. I always liked animals. I always liked going outside,” she said.  

Zaynor is not sure if she wants to take a year off to write before going to graduate school.

“It just depends on where I get in,” she said.

She is looking at Ohio University, the University of Dayton and the University of New Mexico. Her first choice is University of California Davis.

Zaynor has been preparing for graduate school by taking internships and doing undergraduate research.

Last summer, Zaynor went to New Mexico to do paid research on invasive species.

“There is a species of trees called Russian Olives. They’re invasive because they’re from Russia, Siberia and the Middle East,” Zaynor said. “They grow along the river and streams and crowd out these other plants.”

Zaynor is also doing undergraduate research on the lobelia siphilitica flower with associate biology Professor Andrea Case.

They picked around 40-50 individual plants, estimated their sex ratio and collected their seed pots.

“I didn’t get stung by bees, but I lost my fear of bugs very quickly,” Zaynor said.

While conducting research, she didn’t forgetting about her love to write. as she is also attempting to write a fantasy story.

“The story is in its early stages of infancy,” she said.

For now, Zaynor must put her full attention to creative writing on hold and focus on finishing her last semester at Kent State.

In ten years, she sees herself pursuing a post-doctorate degree.

“I want to be a professor of biology. I’ll teach, I’ll do the research,” Zaynor said. “I’ll do it all.”

Zaynor has high hopes for the future in the field of science, but explains she sees writing to still be prominent.

“Hopefully (I’ll have) something published, a boyfriend at least, if not married, lots of dogs, a house, better hair and (be) ten pounds thinner,” she laughs.

Jillian Holness is the humanities reporter for The Kent Stater, contact her at [email protected].