ERIC ZAYAS; Feature Editor:

The 22nd Annual Natural Science Academic Festival takes place this Friday and Saturday in Morken and Rieke.

Students studying a variety of sciences will present detailed posters outlining their research in the fields of physics, mathematics, chemistry, geosciences, computer science, computer engineering and biology.

The event is open to the public. Friends, family and fellow Lutes are encouraged to support the students who have worked hard on their incredibly inciteful presentations.

Student science presenter Marjorie Rasmussen commented on her experience working on her class’ presentation on microbial diversity within compost.

20160503230551415“We have different types of soil from different parts of the farm that we’re working with, but pretty much we’re just characterizing bacteria that live in the soil and drawing a tree relationship with them,” Rasmussen said. “Kind of like a family tree for the bacteria.”

Rasmussen’s  group also talked about the importance of the festival in preparing students for their capstones. The kinds of presentations at the festival closely resemble the presentations students prepare for their senior culminating projects. The experience of presenting in front of a supportive audience acts as practice that can thoroughly improve confidence levels and public speaking skills.

Another student presenting at the festival, Katie Caspary, discussed her presentation for the event. Caspary worked with Professor Neal Yakelis and Shawn Brookins on a presentation about a medical procedure that provides drugs to patients in a localized way. The goal is to avoid nasty side effects that occur when the drug reacts with other parts of the body the medicine is not meant to affect.

“We’re working together to formulate these compounds that will undergo Diels-Alder reactions and Retro-Diels-Alder reactions,” Caspary said. “Basically the idea is that, if you have these compounds that can undergo these reactions, then you can have them bind to a polymer, and then they have a drug bound to it. Then when they undergo these reactions in your body, they release and break apart, and then that drug can go in your body and medicate you that way.”

Administrative Associate Ann F. Tolo has helped the Natural Science division faculty for 11 years with the science festival. This year, Tolo is in charge of arranging the presentation spaces, organizing complementary catering (including a pizza lunch) and event scheduling.

Tolo looks forward to this year’s science festival, explaining the significance of the event to Pacific Lutheran University students.

“I think it’s very important to have this open-to-the-public time so that the public, as well as parents and friends of the students, can see what they have been doing all of this time that they’ve been at PLU in their majors,” Tolo said. “Unless you’ve actually taken some classes, you may not understand all the things that they are learning in the different departments.”

The Natural Science Academic Festival students present their work this Friday from 12:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. and this Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Come by and support your local Lutes, and expect to learn something new! ◼︎

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