Your name and what is/was your background (what is your major, why science, etc)?
Name: Cory Druffel
Major: Mathematics B.S. with teaching certificate
Why Science: Besides mathematics science is very interesting to me because it explains how the world works and all of its make-up. It was very beneficial and fun to learn more about plant biology because I did not have as much experience with it since I am a mathematics major.
Why did you decide to join a research lab? How did the experience compare to what you had expected?
I first joined the research laboratory to get experience doing research and discovering the unknown. After working there for awhile, I found that I really enjoyed working with graduate students, being in an advanced learning center, and learning more about plant biology. The experience was even better then I expected. I was nervous about doing research thinking I did not have the experience or brains to work on it. However, after working at the laboratory, my confidence in my own abilities increased. I loved working there!
What was cool, exciting, or most interesting about your time in the lab?
I really liked going on field days to different farms. It was a great way to meet new people, show off the lab’s research, and they were very fun. Even presenting in front of the people at the field day was fun because I got to present what I was working on to a respectable crowd.
If there is something in particular you learned or discovered that you’d like to share with others, please take a moment to tell us about it.
I learned that having a mathematics major does not just limit me to being a teacher, doing mathematics research, or just working with pure mathematics. I found that there are areas such as applied mathematics with biology that I could go into if I wanted to. There are lots of jobs out there for mathematicians.
If you would recommend conducting research in a science lab to others, what would you tell them to get them interested in the idea?
Tell them about how anyone can do it and that there are time constraints but the job isn’t that stressful. The point is to learn and discover new things. You are not always going to get the results you want because you are experimenting. So it is alright if you make mistakes and learn from them.
We’d love to know what you’re up to, so please give us a brief description of where you are working or going to school now.
This summer I worked in the mathematics department at Washington State University. I was doing applied mathematics research with a graduate students on the substitution rates of nucleotides of DNA strands. I still have one more year at Whitworth University. Then I am planning on applying to graduate school in mathematics.
Did the lab experience help you with your classes or your perspective about science? Did working in the lab help you with developing other skills like time management or communication?
It helped with my perspective about science. It made me want to learn more about biology in general. Overall, I became more interesting in finding out how the world functions. I also did have to do some public speaking at field days and worked on time management when I had deadlines for getting the plants transferred.
Was there anything in particular you would have liked us to do different to enhance your learning or interest from the time spent in the lab?
There could maybe be an introduction week when you just start working where the graduate students give a more complete overview of their work and what they are trying to do. This coming from a mathematics student, I would have more of an introduction to what I was working with then.
Do you feel better prepared for the workplace or future academic endeavors as a result of your time in the lab?
Yes, very much. Working in this research lab gave me the confidence to work in a mathematics research lab and to want to go on to study at graduate school.