Teaching & Learning

For the Fun of It: USU Undergrad Urges Hands-on Science Learning

Though still an undergrad, Lynsey Talbot already knows what kind of science teacher she’d like to be. The Utah State University student believes that learning should be interactive, hands-on and fun.

“Too many students think they don’t like science — that it’s boring and too difficult,” says Talbot, a biochemistry and secondary education major, who just completed her third year at USU. “But there’s a lighter side of science that’s not intimidating. You just have to get science into the students’ hands.”

Talbot is USU’s third recipient of an American Chemical Society-Hach Land Grant Scholarship, which provides $6,000 each academic year for the remainder of the Sandy, Utah, native’s undergraduate career.

Utah State is among 72 universities across the nation authorized by the ACS to administer the scholarship, which provides educational funds for aspiring high school chemistry teachers.

“I’m very grateful for this scholarship and the opportunities it provides,” says Talbot, a 2008 graduate of Alta High School. “I’m excited about beginning student teaching in the coming year and putting ideas I’ve learned from the classroom and the lab into practice.”

Talbot, who is also the recipient of a 2011-12 College of Science Undergraduate Research Minigrant, conducts research on biodiesel production in the lab of faculty mentor Lance Seefeldt. 

“My research is based on the current need for alternative transportation fuel,” she says. “We’re investigating a more energy-efficient method of producing biodiesel.”

Talbot is studying a type of bacterium that produces wax esters.

“When grown in the right conditions, these wax esters are similar to diesel fuel,” she says. “By taking a gene out of this bacterium and inserting it into photosynthetic bacterium, we believe it will be possible to produce biodiesel from such plants as algae without complex chemical processes.”

The discovery could be a boon to the production of alternative fuels, Talbot says.

“Currently, a lot of energy is expended to create biodiesel from crops like corn,” she says. “Even more energy is used to extract fossil fuels from the earth. The less energy you have to put into fuel production, the better.”

The Hach Scientific Foundation — pronounced “hawk” — was established in 1982 by Clifford and Kitty Hach, founders of The Hach Company. The Colorado-based foundation endowed the ACS scholarship program to foster science education.

The ACS-Hach program stipulates that USU’s Chemistry and Biochemistry Department, which has administered the scholarship since 2007, can support two students at a time. Additional scholarships are awarded as recipients graduate.

Related links:

USU Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

USU College of Science

Contact: Alvan Hengge, 435-797-1620, alvan.hengge@usu.edu

Writer: Mary-Ann Muffoletto, 435-797-3517, maryann.muffoletto@usu.edu

USU student Lynsey Talbot in Lance Seefeldt's lab

In the lab of faculty mentor Lance Seefeldt, undergrad biochemist Lynsey Talbot employs a UV-visible spectrophotometer to check for enzyme activity in a bacterium used to make biodiesel.

USU student Lynsey Talbot at Utah Capitol Hill research event

Talbot, left, has presented at such venues as Undergrad Research Day on Capitol Hill and Utah Council on Undergraduate Research. She was a featured speaker for a 2010 'Leonardo After Hours' event hosted by USTAR and Salt Lake City’s Leonardo Museum.

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Research 545stories Plants 119stories Undergraduate Research 108stories Chemistry 92stories Discoveries 46stories

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