Summer of science: FSU students’ scientific endeavors

While we were busy this summer catching the bright peak of the Perseids, celebrating the anniversary of Apollo 11, and RSVPing to storm Area 51, many of us were also practicing science in our daily lives. 

From the wilderness, to laboratories, and even a manufacturing plant for flavored pies, I set out to take a closer look into the unique ways FSU students have devoted themselves to a “Summer of Science.”

Senior wildlife biology major Nicole Bray found herself in Woodstock, Vermont in an ongoing effort to research invasive plant species. She held a position at The Student Conservation Association (SCA), a non-profit group whose mission is to build the next generation of conservation leaders. 

Interns have the opportunity to restore natural habitats and native plant communities by managing invasive plants in the area. 

“I actually heard about the SCA in Animal Physiological Ecology class last semester!” Bray said.

Whether she’s out in the field monitoring milkweed plants for caterpillar eggs, or simply having a blast with her fellow interns, she said, “I knew I needed more experience. … I give a lot of thanks.”

While some feel the call of the wild, others prefer to bring their research indoors. Take Joshua Rumple, class of ’19, for instance. Recent biochemistry graduate and fresh Ph.D. student at Purdue University, Rumple spent his summer as a process chemistry intern. 

“Basically, we are finding better and cheaper ways to make molecules,” Rumple said. “It was rigorous, and it was cool…I was running four to six reactions a day.” 

Rumple worked specifically with total kinase inhibitors, and how they relate to oncological targets. Scientists are interested in kinase inhibitors because they go after cancer cells with more precision than traditional chemotherapy treatments.

Similarly, student Amanda Martin learned that where the chemistry is, so are the solutions. At AbbVie Bioresearch Center, she worked with ligand binding assays and automation.

“It pushed me to want to pursue biomedical and pharmaceutical research following my undergrad,” she said. 

As I delved deeper into the ocean of our students’ experiences, I quickly realized science appears in a myriad of jobs. 

Steven Furtney, class of ’19, an employee of Hi-Way Safety Systems Inc uses mathematics and different design software in close tandem to design road signs. 

“A vector is an average of where pixels are,” he explained. “That way, it creates a line that can be stretched infinitely large and never loses quality.” 

His company is located in Rockland, and produces a variety of road, traffic, and safety signs. Furtney compared the relationship between mathematics and science. “Science is a method of figuring out information, and math is the medium for how we design that method.” 

From Rockland, I took the road less travelled and stumbled upon the eccentric, yet tasty company that is Table Talk Pies. Located just a quick drive down I-90, the company boasts an impressive variety of pies – some notable favorites being strawberry rhubarb and the 6-inch lemon snack pie.

Senior food science major Tyler Hatfield, intern and quality engineer at Table Talk, has been working for the company since 2018 and is currently researching water content in pies. He is set to graduate after this semester. Sweet!

[Editor’s Note: Amanda Martin is a staff member of The Gatepost.]