||Schofield Hall 218|
||Eau Claire, WI 54702-4004|
UW-Eau Claire Sophomore|
At Home In National Lab
MAILED: Dec. 7, 1998|
A lifelong fan of the sciences, Megan Clarey came to the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire because it promised great educational opportunities. But even she couldn't have imagined just how far those opportunities would take her or how quickly.
The sophomore biochemistry/molecular biology major is spending the fall semester as an intern at California's Lawrence Livermore National Lab a position typically reserved for juniors and seniors.
"During the summer, I sent a letter of interest to the education department here at the LLNL," said Clarey, Amery. "Three weeks later, I received a phone call from Joanne Horn, Ph.D., asking me to work for her fall semester of 1998. It all happened very quickly. Within three weeks I was driving to California. I arrived before my application did."
Clarey was admitted to the Undergraduate Research Semester at LLNL early because as a UW-Eau Claire freshman she participated in organic chemistry research with Dr. David Lewis, chair of the chemistry department. She also worked with Lewis on a grant during the summer.
"Megan's participation in undergraduate research here at UW-Eau Claire was a strong point in her favor and tipped the scales in favor of an early admission to the program," Lewis said. "And she has made the best of this opportunity."
"The experiences I've had since I've been here have been unreal," Clarey said. "As interns, we have gotten to travel to Nevada to see the nuclear test sites and even walk in a crater. We toured current LLNL and Sandia lab projects and the Yucca Mountain lab project (future nuclear waste repository).
"To keep the focus on education, we have visited the campuses of Stanford and UC-Berkeley. We participate in a variety of classes and seminars focusing on computers, grad school and presenting scientific material. We've been lucky enough to meet world renowned scientists such as Edward Teller (H-bomb) and Glen Seaborg (Element #106 Sg)."
The research side of her internship has focused on environmental restoration, Clarey said, explaining that she works with bacteria that breaks down a harmful pollutant (TCE) in the environment.
As an intern, Clarey was required to prepare an electronic poster, scientific paper and oral presentation regarding her research. Clarey's poster was selected to represent LLNL at the National Convention of Undergraduate Research in 1999. If the NCUR board selects her abstract, she will present her work in New York City and possibly Washington, D.C.
"Outside the lab, I've gotten SCUBA certified, traveled all over the West Coast and indulged myself in San Francisco culture," Clarey said. "I've met amazing people from all parts of the world and have made great friends. I've met Navy Seals to ambassadors to Arlo Guthrie."
Clarey credits her work with Lewis as having made the internship possible, as well as having made it possible for her to succeed in it.
"The research I participated in with Dr. Lewis helped me to understand what research is truly about and the attitude to have toward it," Clarey said. "He taught me to be patient and realize that all results are worthwhile, whether or not they're what you're looking for. In research, you're always learning. The whole department stresses education and understanding before finding the right answer. I appreciate knowing the concepts rather than just the numbers."
Clarey said her experiences this semester will certainly open doors for additional educational opportunities and for career options in the years ahead. Already, she said, the Sandia National Laboratory (across the road from LLNL) is talking with her about a summer position.
"Opportunity falls in your lap out here," Clarey said. "I'd recommend it to anyone who loves science. It's been the time of my life."
While the internship will certainly open new doors for Clarey, it also will provide opportunities for her fellow science students at UW-Eau Claire, Lewis said.
"I've received e-mail and telephone calls from Sandia asking if we have any more students who might like to participate in this program all on the strength of Megan's interaction with the scientists at the two national labs," Lewis said.
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: Dec. 7, 1998