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2014 Fall Linfield Magazine

Fall 2014 l i n f i e l d m a g a z i n e - 1 1 Students teaching students Tika Zbornik ’17 holds a vial filled with a dark brown substance – food for the fruit flies. “They love it. We make it every week,” she said of the recipe of molasses, corn meal and yeast. Zbornik, a 2013 iFOCUS participant, joined Reinke’s fruit fly research team as a result of her experience and has blossomed in the Linfield labs. The hands-on work is helping chart a direction for her future. “I want to figure out if research is a viable career choice for me,” she said. “I’m learning so much – we’re doing five different projects right now so there’s always something new happening.” Last fall Zbornik and Rhese Thompson ’17, also a former participant of iFOCUS, organized a learning community – a small group of students doing science – that met throughout the year. With funding from a Rose E. Tucker Charitable Trust grant, the group was part of an ongoing genetics project in Reinke’s lab, analyzing data to determine what was usable and what gaps needed to be filled. Zbornik and Thompson taught others research techniques they had already mastered. Although Michael Morin ’17, a biology major who hopes to become an endocrinologist, wasn’t an iFOCUS student, he still took advantage of the learning community. He was curious about genetics research and the experience, coupled with his Linfield classes, changed how he approaches science. “I used to think that there were definitive answers and methods for everything in question,” he said. “But after a year at Linfield, I know that certainly isn’t the case. Science requires an approach where many minds toy with an idea or question in order to discover something new, and the questions we ask are as important as the answers we look for.” Additional learning communities are planned this year, and according to Weisz, they show students that science is accessible, even if they don’t have a background in it. “There are still things you can do, questions you can ask, experiments you can conduct – all as first-year students,” he said. “We want all students to go do science and see how cool it is.” Trajectory change iFOCUS changed the trajectory of Riley Self’s education – from biology to physics. “I learned that physics isn’t as scary as it sounded,” said Self ’16, whose goal is to become an environmental engineer. “Working with students who actually studied physics and seeing the work they did changed my mind. Now I’m working on the same research team as my iFOCUS mentor, Christina Bibler ’15.” Self interned at Applied Physics Technologies, Inc., with Bill Mackie ’71, professor of physics, where she learned to use a scanning electron microscope, and now runs it in the Linfield lab. This past summer she conducted research with Michael Crosser, associate professor of physics, to study properties of graphene, an atomically thin form of carbon. Her favorite part of research is the collaboration. At APTech, she sent research results to labs around the world. She’s also worked with graduate students at Oregon State University, where Crosser is doing sabbatical research. “It’s cool to see how much people can learn and expand and work together from all over the world,” she said. “Instead of just taking classes and learning about physics, I get to learn about what I can do with physics.” – Laura Davis iFOCUS schedule SATURDAY – Math, competitive graph coloring in morning; biochemistry in afternoon SUNDAY – Biochemistry in morning; poster preparation, book discussion in afternoon; speakers in evening (intro to next day’s sessions) MONDAY – Biology, Drosophila in morning; Physics, Arduino programming in afternoon TUESDAY – Marine biology beach trip, camping, collecting/ analyzing samples, star gazing, sea life viewing WEDNESDAY – Marine biology, whale watching, prep for poster session in afternoon THURSDAY – Poster session “I am surrounded by people who want to do something more, find the answers. It’s nice to know there are others who want to do that, too, and to have that support system.” – Victoria Wood ’16, iFOCUS student Students concluded the week with a poster session, presenting research to the Linfield community. Over the course of six days, students scrutinized fruit flies, marine life, mathematical theory, complex circuit boards, chlorophyll interactions, and more.


2014 Fall Linfield Magazine
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