While most students perform winter-term projects off campus during the month of January, the pulse of the Science Center at Oberlin College continues to thrive. With uninterrupted access to laboratories, professors, and equipment, and no other classes to compete for time, students have the opportunity to continue projects started during the academic school year or get involved in research they’ve always wanted to learn about.
Harper Watson ‘20, David Kotlikoff '20, Anshuman Mor ‘21, Hannah Shafer ‘19, and Abby Parker ‘22 prepare to conduct a squirrel anti-predator study with Professor of Biology Keith Tarvin.
Research Specialist Juhi Chaudhary harvests seeds in Professor Marta Laskowski’s biology lab.
Rian Szende ‘20, Imani Badillo, ‘22, and Renee Geyer ‘21 work with Professor of Biology Michael Moore to preserve plant specimens for the college’s herbarium.
This (laser) project is directly related to my physics major as well as my personal goal of pursuing physics in graduate school and eventually a career in experimental AMO research.
Sun Yool Park ‘19, Claire Segura ‘20, Eleda Fernald ‘22, and Dhruv Tandon ‘22, work on the construction of a SERF co-magnotometer for the Global Network of Optical Magnetometers for Exotic physics (GNOME) in Associate Professor Jason Stalnaker's laser lab.
Down the hall from the laser lab, Ry Currier ‘22 and Alex Khate ‘22, embark on a synthesizer build.
Simon Perales, a student at Oberlin High School (left) and Max Kramer '20 (right) along with Lucas Mendicino, Samuel Narvaez, and Dan Moramarco, all '21, explore mathematical cognition—the study of what takes place in the brain when humans do math. It's a project that meshes well with Kramer. During the school year, Kramer and 10 of his peers worked with Professor of Psychology Nancy Darling to develop 1step2life, a web-based app that helps adolescents manage chronic pain. The group was awarded a $20,000 prize through Oberlin's LaunchU competition.
Physics major Daniel Mukasa ‘19 works best at night, so tweaking the construction of his prototype at 7:30 p.m. in Professor Stephen FitzGerald's lab makes perfect sense. The mechanism he designed focuses on separating out the rare but very useful isotope of hydrogen, called deuterium. "Daniel's prototype allows us to easily keep the separating tube at any desired temperature all the way down to the boiling point of liquid nitrogen, -320 F," explains FitzGerald.
Sophie Lyon ‘22 (left), Jane Sedlak ‘19 (middle), and Haodaen Jiang '22 (right) make use of Oberlin’s 400 MHz Spectrometer in their research. In May, Sedlak was awarded a $50,000 Nexial Prize, which she will use to study stained glass conservation in Germany and England, as well as Batik dye creation in Indonesia. “I think that colors are the intersection of art and science, and that fascinates me because it contains questions about perception and culture as well as lessons about preservation,” says Sedlak '19.
Cocrystal research is one of the newest fields in chemistry and has the potential to change how we think about pharmaceuticals.
Riley Davies '19 uses Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectroscopy for his independent honors project, Transport Mechanisms in Cocrystal Formation.
Associate Professor of Neuroscience Gunnar Kwakye, Megan Thomas ‘19, Joaquin Cardoco ’22, and five other students perform neurotoxicology research.
Julia Butler ‘19 (center), Professor of Biology Mary Garvin (left), greenhouse manager Judy Laushman (right), and Will Wickham '19 (not shown) release beetles in the Science Center greenhouse in hopes of controlling the space's mealybug infestation, a common problem in greenhouses.
Ellie Tiley ‘19 researches lateral root development in Professor Marta Laskowski's biology lab.
Madeleine Gefke '20 prepares to feed hundreds of hungry mosquitoes in Professor of Biology Mary Garvin’s mosquito lab. Garvin’s current research focuses on West Nile Virus and the interaction between birds and mosquitoes.
Assistant Professor of Neuroscience Chris Howard guides his winter-term students as they investigate the role of dopamine inputs and striosomes in habit formation.
This winter-term project with Associate Professor of Neuroscience Patrick Simen allows students to do research on the computational basis of decision-making and interval timing in the human brain.
Under the direction of Associate Professor of Neuroscience Patrick Simen, Zoe Swann ‘19 injects conductive solution into the electrodes of an Electroencephalogram (EEG) cap worn by student volunteer Emily Cairncross ‘21. Information gathered will be used in Swann's honors project on the computational basis of decision-making and interval timing in the human brain.
Electroencephalogram (EEG) is also used in Professor of Neuroscience Leslie Kwakye's lab for research on how attention affects multisensory integration and the brain. Information from the experiment is transmitted into an adjoining analysis room and viewed by Lauriel Powell ‘22 and Tawni Hosein ‘22, pictured below.
Corinne Marble '21 (seated) and Margaret Sammon '20 conduct face perception research in the psychology department's Electroencephalogram (EEG) lab.
Izzy Schwob ‘21 (left) and Tyler Roberts ‘21 (right) mount specimens on slides in Associate Professor Tracie Paine's neuroscience lab.
Chemistry major William Dresser '19 uses Professor Mathew Elrod's biochemistry lab to conduct atmospheric research, a study that looks closely at compounds in the environment.
Astronomers love having a spectrum, because it lets you learn all sorts of things about what the galaxy is doing, like how many stars it’s forming, or if the black hole at the center of the galaxy is trying to grow.
Loubna El Idrissi ‘21 (right) has a winter-term goal—to preserve a subset of data with detailed information taken from thousands of galaxies. Assistant Professor of Physics Jillian Scudder (left) illustrates how the data is collected.
Toxic producing gene research is the focus in Associate Professor Laura Romberg’s biology lab.
Biochemistry and history major Maddison Paladino ‘21 performs melanin research in Professor Jason Belitsky's chemistry lab.
Luke Buck ’21, a biochemistry major on Oberlin’s premed track, performs analytical chemistry research in Professor Robert Thompson’s lab.
I knew I wanted to be premed since I was a kid.
Before taking on research this winter term in Professor Robert Thompson's analytical chemistry lab, Natasha Powell ‘20, has gone the extra mile in her medical shadowing requirements for Oberlin’s premed program. She has shadowed doctors at private practices, orthopedic and pediatrician offices, and has observed surgical procedures.
Lauren Fries ‘19, Mia Fox ‘21, Magdalen Chouinard ‘20, and Samantha Westeman ‘19 work on Alzheimer's research in Visiting Professor Monica Mariani's neuroscience lab.
Professor of Geology Karla Hubbard catalogs specimens in her department's Geology Archive Room.
Zoe Hecht ‘21 and Emily Bermudez prepare soil samples in the geology department.
Clara Margaret Flood teach students how to abstract geographic data using Geographic Information Systems.
It's 8 p.m. and Jason Zhong '22 is finishing up for the day. Zhong is working on the synthesis of sulfur-based analogues of porphyrins.
Photos by Yevhen Gulenko, Mike Crupi, Michael Hartman,
Jennifer Manna, John Seyfried, and Yvonne Gay.