A recent research adventure took Dr. Traci Neilsen and two students to the North Atlantic Ocean. Neilsen, an associate professor of physics at BYU, and her team apply artificial intelligence to noises in the ocean to classify the seabed. To further their research, they participated in a seabed characterization experiment aboard the research vessel Neil Armstrong in May 2022.
Despite the inherent time constraints of engaging undergraduate and graduate students in research, Bergeson enjoys teaching this “seek and find” principle to his students, a principle that has become his philosophy for life. He has found that whenever there is a lack of a clear direction on how to move forward, it simply means a need to experiment has presented itself. Navigating the unknown happens at all levels, from the micro error bar type that occurs in specific experiments to the macro awareness that there are still swaths of the universe we do not understand. For Bergeson, embracing this uncertainty is a given in any adventure―in research, in life, and in every worthwhile pursuit—and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
Olivia Fisher vividly remembers driving back to BYU after a family vacation on the East Coast. Her father was encouraging her to take the computer science (CS) classes that simultaneously enthralled and intimidated her. After realizing the processes in her current chemistry lab would be more efficient if they were computer-automated, Fisher debated declaring the CS minor. That’s when the counsel from her father to bridge the gap between chemistry and CS truly changed her life’s direction. He wisely told her, “If you don’t do it, nobody will.” That night, Fisher added the introductory computer science course to her registration and started on a journey that would eventually lead her to win the prestigious Barry Goldwater Scholarship. However, the challenge of overcoming her fear to take unfamiliar classes would not be Fisher’s last obstacle.
Chemistry Ph.D. student Radhya Gamage swept both the college- and university-level Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competitions with a presentation about her research developing a new ion trap mass spectrometer. The 3MT competition gave Gamage the opportunity to hone her communication skills to present in-depth scientific topics in layman’s terms in only three minutes. “I started with something compelling that I knew the audience could relate to,” she said, “then I moved into explaining what my research was doing.”