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Linfield Mag 28 Fall 2014

Molecular biology of HIV Jasper Erickson ’13 didn’t just spend the summer studying the molecular biology of HIV -- he did it in Germany while immersing himself in another culture. He merged his love of biology and German into a research internship at the Federal Institute for Vaccines and Biomedicines, near Frankfurt. A semester studying in Vienna, Austria, fueled Erickson’s interest in returning to a German-speaking country. His earlier research at Oregon Health and Sciences University and with Catherine Reinke, assistant professor of biology at Linfield, prompted his search for opportunities in Germany. Erickson studied the molecular biology and biochemistry of HIV as part of the German lab’s work identifying mechanisms by which HIV hijacks host cells. The work could eventually lead to better therapies and treatments for HIV. Erickson was no stranger to research into infectious disease. He completed an independent project with Reinke on HIV and worked in her lab his senior year, dissecting the microRNA pathway in fruit flies. At OHSU, he studied the Dengue virus, the agent responsible for Dengue fever, which affects millions and for which there is no vaccine or cure. Erickson’s German internship was sponsored through the Research Internship in Science and Engineering (RISE), a program of DAAD (the German Academic Exchange Service). While expanding his knowledge about immunology, he also learned how much is yet to be discovered in the fields of HIV and immunology. Erickson plans to apply to medical school and his research experiences provide a good perspective for that career. “The translation of findings in the lab to treatments for patients in the clinic is of the utmost importance for the advancement of medicine,” he said. “The communication and understanding between researchers in academia and clinicians in the hospital is essential for the success of biomedical science and clinical therapy. Through these experiences I will try to tie in what I’m doing in the lab to the potential effect the research might have in a clinical setting.” Computer science, web design Nate Mills ’14 has immersed himself in learning languages, without conjugating a single verb. Over the summer, Mills honed skills in computer languages such as Javascript during an internship with Lvsys, a web design company based in McMinnville. The Lvsys content management system enables customers to design their own websites. Mills, who has continued his work this fall, helps with technical support, investigates system bugs and works with clients on individual projects. The personalized internship is comparable to work towards a master’s degree, according to Dan Ford, assistant professor of computer science and Mills’ advisor. “The amount of experience he’s gained is the equivalent to an extra year of study,” said Ford. “It’s huge.” Along with learning a new language is learning how to learn a new language. Mills learned Javascript, the computer code that makes web pages come to life. “In a classroom, I can talk with the professor, ask questions and get answers,” said Mills, a computer science and math double major. “But in the workforce, there are fewer direct answers. Learning where to go online and what resources are best for particular situations is important. With computer languages, there are large online forums to go to, but learning how to find those is important.” Mills now knows more than 10 computer languages, and that number continues to grow – including coding languages such as Java, C++, PHP; and web-based languages such as Javascript, HTML and jQuery. According to Ford, the summer internship is crucial to providing real-world experience for students, and provides a transition into the professional world. But more than that, it has reinvigorated Mills’ interest in programming. Jasper Erickson ’13 conducted research alongside Catherine Reinke, assistant professor of biology. He said many Linfield professors were influential throughout his education including Peter Richardson, professor of German, who encouraged him to study abroad, and Bob Wolcott, professor emeritus of chemistry, who also conducted research in Germany as a student and provided support and inspiration to Erickson. 1 0 - l i n f i e l d m a g a z i n e Fall 2013 “The translation of findings in the lab to treatments for patients in the clinic is of the utmost importance for the advancement of medicine.” – Jasper Erickson ’13


Linfield Mag 28 Fall 2014
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