Lawrentians Present Their Independent Work

News  /  by Allison Chou '19, Ashley Lee '21, and Sahil Malhotra '19  /  November 11, 2017

Olalla Duato '18 / The Lawrence

This past Thursday, students and faculty gathered in the F.M. Kirby Math and Science Center for the fall poster session, at which Hutchins Scholars and Fall Independent Study researchers presented their work.

V Form Hutchins Scholars presented their scientific research, which they conducted over the previous summer as part of the program.

The students who worked on independent studies presented projects in various fields, ranging from religion to computer programming.

Each poster served as a snapshot of a student’s research. Posters contained background information, an overview of what a student did and the methods he or she used, and a conclusion including possible real-world applications.

During the session, students and faculty also had a chance to ask each presenter questions in regard to his or her research.

Over the summer, Hutchins Scholar Jesse Brewer ’18 worked at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City to “search for molecules that can upregulate the expression of [the] FOXN1 [gene] in mouse thymic epithelial cells,” Brewer said.

In her research, Brewer specifically searched for molecules that she hoped might eventually be used in medications for thymic recovery.

Henry Golub ’18, also a Hutchins Scholar, described his time at his internship as “one of the most rewarding [experiences] of [his] life.”

Golub observed different ways to inhibit inflammation-inducing molecules in fibroblast cells.

From his experience of working in a lab, Golub now has “a fleshed-out understanding of what research entails and the immense dedication that scientists put into their work.”

Emilia Figueroa-Valik ’18 completed an independent study during the fall trimester on renowned Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar and his work during Madrid’s counter-culture movement. Since the casts in Almodovar’s films are almost entirely women, Figueroa-Valik analyzed whether Almodovar’s portrayals of women were biased or realistic, and she wrote essays in Spanish discussing his films’ main characters and themes.

Besides introducing her to Spanish culture, the project helped her build a stronger Spanish foundation and “[focus] on both essay structure and Spanish grammar.”

Another student who conducted an independent study, Caroline Colavita ’18, studied comparative religious ethics under the guidance of Co-Chair of the Interdisciplinary Studies Program Jason Von Wachenfeldt. The goal of her project was “to clarify the assumption that there is an universal solution to an ethical issue,” Colavita said.

Colavita’s research concluded that “the way ancient, traditional stories are told from diverse religions has influenced contemporary, ethical issues.”

Arin Mukherjee ’18 studied Deep Learning, a branch of artificial intelligence. Mukherjee applied predictive algorithms to datasets related to global warming in order to validate results predicted by the International Plant Protection Convention.

According to Director of Student Activities Karen Reading, independent studies offer a chance for students “to go deeper into a subject than [students] were able to learn in a classroom.”

Independent studies usually emerge when students “have a subject that they want to go off tangent from the regular curriculum and their teachers who have the same passion offer the students an opportunity to investigate the topic deeper and offer guidance,” Reading said.