St. Olaf News
Students present research at national STEM conference
February 19, 2014
St. Olaf College students Guttu Maskalo ‘14, Lansa Dawano ‘14, and Carlos Rivera ‘15 traveled to Washington, D.C., last week to present their research at the Emerging Researchers National Conference in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.
The conference aims to help students enhance their science communication skills and better understand how to prepare for science careers in a global workforce. It is centered around student presentations, with workshops focused on strategies for success in graduate school, career preparation, and examining STEM careers in a global context.
Maskalo presented the work he did this summer alongside Associate Professor of Biology Kevin Crisp to develop a wireless probe for pacemakers. The research team — which also included Erick Marigi ’14 and Shane Allen ’14 — spent weeks hand-building tiny wireless probes that could replace the relatively clunky wires and batteries currently used in pacemakers.
Dawano presented the on-campus research she did as part of the TRiO McNair Scholars Program. Working alongside Professor of Biology Anne Walter and two other students, she helped reorganize the curriculum for the Student Support Services Summer Bridge program, which assists first-generation, low-income first-year students with the transition to college.
Rivera’s research looks at how DNA strands break down in various types of solutions. By figuring out what part of the DNA falls apart in reaction to what type of solution, Rivera can determine what section of the DNA contributes to the stability of the structure.
Rivera, a Beckman Scholar who attended the conference as a presenter for the second year in a row, says the gathering really helped him make connections and learn how to communicate with professionals.
“It’s one thing to email people, but to be able to to talk to them face-to-face is a different thing,” he says.
Both Maskalo and Dawano are part of the TRiO McNair Scholars Program and leaders of the NorthStar STEM Cohort, which Rivera is also a part of. All three students are part of the TRiO Student Support Services program.