Shannon Fasing, an M.T. student in the School of Education's Department of Teaching and Learning, took full advantage of her Noyce Scholarship and spent her summer researching in Washington at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory through the STAR Program.
The STEM Teacher and Researcher Program (STAR) helps students further their desire to become a teacher by giving them access to a rich educational environment to research topics of their choice. Along with doing research, STAR helps students learn how to conduct a classroom and how to bring experimental science into their lessons.
Fasing worked under Dr. Xiao-Ying Yu at the Atmospheric Science Global Change Division. She worked one on one with her mentor and other peers but also had to opportunity to work with a large team.
“Once a week we would have team meetings and discuss the work of the interns, postbac,and doctoral students and how it all fit into the larger goals of the division,” Fasing said. “Then every day I would go to my office and use computer software to create graphs and charts, at my own discretion.”
Learning how to conduct research in a lab can only be learned by experience and Fasing absorbed as much as possible during her time there.
“My findings needed to be supported by other experiments that were studying the same molecule, and so some days I spent reading journals and peer reviewed articles,” she said.
She also worked with mentors in her field as they guided her during the research process.
"My mentor told me the end product she wanted from the data analysis but it was up to me to chose the information and graph it correctly," Fasing said. "There was a lot of trial and error, much like any research experience.”
Fasing was accompanied not only by professional mentors in her field, but also by students that have the same interests as her.
“I was in an office with other STAR fellows and interns from other programs; it was fun being in the same space with like-minded colleagues,” she said.
On the days when she wasn't in the lab, Fasing went on local tours of the area with fellow classmates. She was able to explore the area of Richland, Washington and the cities around it.
“Not only were we alongside national lab scientists, but the program took us on tours of local scientific events, such as LIGO - where Einstein’s Gravitational Wave Theory was just proven this past September,” Fasing said.
Working in a research team is similar to working in a classroom, learning each student and how they work best is the key to success.
“I really understood how much all members contribute, how some have strengths and weaknesses, and how cooperation and communication is key to the success of a research team,” Fasing said.
This scholarship helped Fasing prepare to enter the high-needs school districts by giving her experiences she could not have received anywhere else.
“This experience impacted my preparation toward becoming a biology teacher because I was in the lab doing what scientists do on a daily basis,” she said.
Fasing will be heading back to the west coast in October to present her research poster among 200 other STAR fellows.