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Juniata Mock Trial Team’s Season Wraps Up in Memphis
For the second year in a row, Juniata’s Mock Trial team (lovingly called the Legal Eagles) have made it to the National Championship Tournament. This year’s tournament was hosted by Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, and the best schools in the country were there: Harvard, Yale, UCLA and of course, Juniata College.
The case being argued was a legal malpractice case. The plaintiff, Robin Skye, was wrongfully convicted of killing their spouse, and ten years later is suing their Defense attorney Aubrey Gold for not doing their job well enough. The team had to prep both the Defense and Plaintiff sides of the case for a little over a month.
As a junior at Juniata, this was my third year on the team and my second time going to Nationals. I have always loved the ability to make connections with other people on campus and people from different schools. This year was no different. During our four trials throughout the weekend, we got to meet and become friends with people from the University of Michigan, the University of Chicago, New York University, and Haverford College. We also got to scrimmage Northwestern University, Macalester College, the University of Arkansas, Hillsdale College, and the University of Georgia. Overall, we finished in the top 48 teams in the country, although official rankings will come out later this summer, so stay tuned!
Mock Trial is of course a serious sport, but we also got to be tourists. From the iconic Bass Pro Shop Pyramid to the duck walk at the Peabody Hotel, we got the full Memphis experience, including getting barbecue at the Rendezvous restaurant. We spent a lot of time bonding as a team and making connections with the other teams we saw, including getting pizza with Macalester.
With the end of Nationals, the Mock Trial season is officially over. We started in August of 2022, and got to travel across the country, from Pittsburgh to Memphis to California. We have played teams as varied as Penn State University, Brown University, and even smaller schools like Wellesley College.
We look forward to the next year of Mock Trial, and the start of Mock Trial Bootcamp next August, where we welcome the new members of the team to campus. Stay tuned for next year’s season, where we will hopefully get a ticket to next year’s National Championship Tournament in Chicago, hosted by Loyola University!
Chem Camp comes back to Juniata!
As most Juniata College students would agree, we pride ourselves on hands-on learning opportunities. In order to learn, you have to practice the concepts yourself. Sure, you might need to watch someone perform a task or complete a problem so that you can understand the basic concepts, but eventually you will have to do it yourself.
With those ideas in mind, the Chemistry/Biochemistry Department decided to bring back Chem Camp. This camp is a one-day event where local 2nd – 5th graders are invited to campus to participate in science experiments. This year, I was the Chem Camp Coordinator. I worked with professors, staff, and students to make and deliver flyers to elementary schools, advertise the event online, get our volunteers fully cleared to work with the students, and so much more.
This year, our event was held on April 1st, 2023 (not an April fool’s prank) at 9:00 AM sharp. About 45 students were officially registered in the camp and spent the day practicing science with us. While they were here, the students completed five labs, each of which focused on a different branch of chemistry.
- Color changing slime, Physical chemistry
- Volcanoes, Geochemistry
- Chromatography flowers, Analytical chemistry
- Oil spills, Environmental chemistry
- Atomic models, Organic/Inorganic chemistry
To split up the day, we fed the students lunch and took a quick brain break to get some of their energy out. From there, it was back to lab where all the students were fully engaged, making academic messes and learning in a stress-free environment. Around 2:40 PM, we gathered all the students together and welcomed guardians to join us as the Chemistry/Biochemistry Club officers put on a final demonstration. They made us liquid nitrogen ice cream, mixed fire with giant gummy bars, and froze various objects. I think it’s safe to say that all of us were excited to watch the show and make predictions about the outcomes.
This is just one example of how students are able to get engaged with campus. Elementary schools don’t always have the time and resources to complete these experiments in the classroom, so we decided to provide an opportunity to do so. Encouraging youthful students to get involved with science now will help spark creativity, curiosity, and eventually a more diverse field.
Get to Know the Center for International Education with Kei Takahashi
Juniata’s Center for International Education (CIE) is an office that maintains and administers international programs including Study Abroad, International Student Services, Intensive English, and exchange programs. I have been working in the office as a student worker since the summer of 2021. What I have done so far includes: making a podcast for incoming international students, managing international student orientation at the beginning of the semester, creating study abroad information by country, and organizing various on-campus events for international education. The workplace is very comfortable, and I love the people I work with.
Working in the CIE, I have made a lot of connections on campus. At international student orientation, the CIE welcomed about 70 new students from all over the world. During 3-day orientation, I talked with all of the students, and, thanks to this opportunity, I still hang out with them or have a talk whenever we see each other. Some of them knew about me before coming to the campus through the podcast that I made in summer, which was surprising and made me happy. As the CIE runs various international events on campus, I see a lot of the international students at those events. We have been trying to create a space for anyone to come and enjoy the international/intercultural community. At the International Music/Dance Festival, one of the events that one of my co-workers and I hosted during International Education Week, the participants were dancing, singing, and listening together to appreciate music as a tool to connect people. They enjoyed learning about other cultures.
The CIE supports multiple events throughout the year. Multicultural Story Fest is one of the biggest events, an annual cultural celebration of art, music, dance, poetry, and more. This event showcases students from around the world and all of their talents and passions. We also have a fashion show, where you can see beautiful, colorful, and traditional clothing. As an international student from Japan, I participated in this event last year. It was a great opportunity for anyone to appreciate the diversity and cultures all over the world.
Another big event that the CIE runs is Study Abroad Fair. Usually held in September, international students and study abroad returners promote the programs to the students who are interested in studying abroad at Juniata, sharing their own experiences. Even if you do not have any plans or interests, just stopping by the event and talking with other students is great inspiration to make a first step toward studying abroad.
In the future, the CIE is going to run more events for the campus community to learn and enjoy international/intercultural communication and cultural exchange, while providing students with various opportunities for study abroad. In working to create a more globalized campus community, we are always open to any voices and participation from the students, faculty, and staff.
Bioinformatics Surge Remains Steady
A report released this month by Allied Market Research starts with the quote, “The surge in demand for clinical diagnostics and personalized medicines play a major role in the growth of the bioinformatics market.”
This optimism is echoed throughout a September Global newswire release that states, “The Worldwide Bioinformatics Industry is Expected to Reach $21.8 Billion by 2026.”
Keeping that in mind, Bioinformatics degrees are a hot topic of conversation among potential graduate students. Coupled with the fact that the United States is poised to lead that growth, college campuses around the country are ramping up their bioinformatics program(s). There is no doubt that COVID-19 led to bioinformatics as a term becoming more of a household name, especially as (subjects around) clinical diagnostics are now prime-time news. Moreover, with more manufacturing companies entering the medical field, hiring for innovation in bioinformatics continues to surge.
Juniata’s well-known strengths in biology, computer science, and data science are leveraged not only by the faculty facilitating the bioinformatics program but also by the students enrolled in the program. Thus, opportunities for relevant course enrollment exist, and the ability to mine knowledge and resources from these related disciplines makes for a rich and engaging experience.
At Juniata, we are focusing on creating an environment that fosters a growing number of internship and employment opportunities with local biotechnology and bioinformatics companies for those that enter this program. This allows us to both create and maintain an innovative approach to learning. It also provides our students with sought-after opportunities.
Jason Moran, Vice President for Enrollment, shares, “One of the most exciting things about being part of our Graduate Programs is innovation. Graduate programs allow students to engage in education that is part of what is happening now. In a way, it is like being a part of history. In bioinformatics, our graduate students are learning and participating in things that are changing the world. That is important.”
We encourage potential graduate students to have one-on-one conversations with the program directors and counselors before picking your school. The people matter in your selection process; those relationships with companies and professors that are part of this surge may make all the difference. Next, look for schools where innovation drives their bioinformatics program. The need for bioinformatics (professionals) is here to stay, so those differentiators will matter when it comes to being hired. Finally, look to build up your resume as you learn. We believe we can help with that.
For more information on Juniata College Graduate Programs and our Bioinformatics Degree, go to https://www.juniata.edu/academics/graduate-programs/bioinformatics.php.
A ‘Stellar’ Summer at Juniata
Summer Research in Physics
Before coming to Juniata, I hadn’t thought I would or could do physics research as an undergraduate. Luckily, I was proven wrong! This past summer, I had the opportunity to work in the physics department on an awesome project involving stars! My job was to collect and analyze data on binary stars, systems of two stars that orbit around each other. The data I used was photometric, meaning it related the intensity of the light my target stars gave off. Along with another girl in my department, we created light curves which graph the star system’s brightness across time. We completed a total of six curves this summer. From these curves, we found estimates for the system’s period and measures in the differences between their maxima (when the system is brightest). In the future, we can also use this data to calculate estimates for the mass-ratio and temperature of these stars.
This may sound boring to some, but my job didn’t just consist of graphing points on a curve! My research partner and I read papers, learned how to use new software, assembled telescopes, aligned those telescopes, learned about new constellations, and showed other students craters on the moon. While a fair bit of our work involved clicking buttons, we also got to travel and do some more hands on work. We collected data using a set of remotely-operated telescopes at the Sparks Farm Robotic Observatory which is owned by the college. Sometimes, our tech broke, so we drove down and spent the night running scripts and unscrewing things. By the end, I had mastered the art of falling asleep in a car.
Summer on Campus
Though Juniata is a small school, plenty of other research students were around this summer. Every Wednesday, research students would break from their work and meet in the von Liebig Center for Science. These afternoons, we listened to alumni and postdocs share their research findings and experience. They worked on everything from how nuts affect your gut flora to how birds in the Galapagos are becoming resistant to antibiotics. It was super interesting to hear from alumni, one of whom was actually a Goldwater Fellow. And the lunches were catered! We mainly got lunch from Lil New York, which never disappointed (except maybe for the olives in the empanadas…).
Beyond meeting for weekly lunches, the research students on campus met with those studying at the Field Station for s’mores and canoeing at Raystown Lake. Even though the lake is manmade, the area is super beautiful! Paddling through the mountains after scarfing down four s’mores was incredibly relaxing. Some of us also celebrated the 5th of July with other students working as tour guides on campus.
Presenting My Research
As the summer fun and research wrapped up, it was time to present! My research partner and I presented our findings at the Landmark Research Symposium, a symposium for undergraduate researchers belonging to Juniata’s sports conference. I was nervous for my first real research presentation—especially one online—but it went well! My partner and I successfully fielded questions from professors and some chemistry students. Our sponsor has plans for us to present at an AAVSO (American Association of Variable Star Observers) meeting, along with the Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics and National Conference on Undergraduate Research. Though I’m super excited to present at more conferences, I still can’t believe our work is quality enough to do so!
Finally, a note about funding. Juniata has many opportunities for funding summer research, whether through department money or through other programs. Half of stipend was paid through the department, while the other half came from the Student Scholarly Initiative at Juniata. The SSI exists to offer assistance with research and travel funds. As a recipient of such assistance, I have the privilege and obligation of presenting at Juniata’s Liberal Arts Symposium. This is a spring event in which Juniatians can present their research and theses via poster or presentation to other students and professors.
I’m grateful to my department and sponsor for this research opportunity. This semester, I plan to continue observation on new targets visible in Pennsylvania’s winter sky. To other students, especially in the sciences, reach out to your professors for research opportunities. Professors are almost always willing to take you on their projects. The experience is well worth it, especially at Juniata.