Thursday, April 16, 2015

Three Swimmers Earn Competitive Summer Research Positions

Three Lewis & Clark swimmers found out recently they received summer research positions!  They went to a junior, a sophomore, and a freshman.  Our student-athletes will receive a stipend and housing allowance for their summer research funded through the John S. Rogers Science Research Program.

This is an amazing opportunity for them and one that sets a school like Lewis & Clark apart from many others!  We have had numerous swimmers work on funded summer research over the years in fields as diverse as psychology, biochemistry, philosophy, computer science, and environmental studies.

Check out what each of our swimmers is doing: 

Sofia Koutzoukis
Sofia Koutzoukis“This summer I'll be participating in ecology research funded by the John S. Rogers Science Research Program.  This year was a really cool opportunity because we now have two ecology-focused biology faculty members and both were offering intern opportunities.  I applied and was offered the opportunity to work with Dr. Margaret Metz this summer.  I took Disease Ecology with her Fall of 2014.”

“I'll be in Big Sur this summer working with Dr. Metz through a lab at UC Davis that is interested in Sudden Oak Death in central Californian forests.  My research project will help Dr. Metz and the lab better understand what forest succession looks like after disturbances by fire and disease.  We're basing the research for the summer in preexisting evidence that trees in the area are adapted to disturbance regime.  Even when the above ground biomass burns down, the roots stay intact and are able to sprout new shoots from the roots that will become a new trunk. The shoots make the trees look like shrubby bushes and eventually, the shoots thin out and only one is left as the trunk.  I'll be sampling the ages of the seedlings so we can better understand how many years after each type of disturbance that shoots emerge, and how long it takes for the trunk-shoot to be isolated.”

“Day to day, I'll be working with a grad student from the UC Davis lab, who worked with Dr. Metz when she was a postdoc in that lab.  We'll be hiking somewhere between 1-6 miles from our base camp to 1 square acre plots where I'll take my samples, help the grad student get her data, take some soil and leaf samples and then head back to the camp.  I'll spend about 8 weeks doing this and then 2 weeks either in Portland, Davis, or at home analyzing the data.  The end product will be a poster at the Rogers poster session, but we've talked about expanding this research into an independent study throughout the next semester.”

Jon Torres
Jon Torres“This summer I will be working in Dr. Tamily Weissman-Unni's lab.  For 10 weeks this summer, my experience as a research intern will include various tasks.  In the lab, a multicolor fluorescence labeling approach ("Brainbow") is used to label neuronal populations in many different colors within the living, developing zebrafish brain.  I will use embryonic microinjection techniques, express fluorescent proteins in zebrafish larvae, and use fluorescence microscopy to visualize neurons and dividing cells in vivo (in living fish).  Investigations will focus on mechanisms that regulate dividing cells that generate neurons during brain development.”

“The lab group of about 5 will present a talk during the summer with an overview of the research projects.  I will be working independently on a project centered on molecular biology and microscopy and will coauthor a poster that summarizes the work over summer.”

Elizabeth Armitage
Elizabeth ArmitageStructural Studies and Functional Characterization of Neurotoxic Venom Peptides from Sicariidae Spiders

“Spider venoms contain hundreds of components, including neurotoxic peptides and proteins.  These venom components are of interest for their potential use as therapeutic drugs and as tools for neurophysiology research, as many of them specifically inhibit or activate ion channels and receptors in nerve cells.  The aim of this research is to discover interesting peptides and proteins from the venom of the brown recluse spider and its relatives (the Sicariidae spiders), and then to characterize their structure and function.  We will recombinantly-express spider venom peptides and study them using NMR spectroscopy and other techniques.”

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Three Days Out, Focusing In

The last early morning workout is history and the sets are getting shorter.  Quality remains high as the quantity decreases.  This team looks ready.

It’s that time of year where the days fly past and there is a bit more energy in the air.  Championship week!

We have had some great workouts the past few weeks, but this afternoon we really reached a tipping point where a lot of swimmers were looking GOOD!
Between coaches, we can’t stop bringing up individual swimmers we’re looking forward to seeing race this week.  By the time we get to the meet, we will have pretty much covered everyone. 

A swim team in the run-up to a championship has many moving pieces.  Our swimmers are still—as always—engaged and passionate students.  They’ve been laying the groundwork for weeks to be able to rest and focus in on fast swimming this week. 

Labs don’t cease, nor exams.  Several of our swimmers will take exams at our hotel on Friday, proctored by their faithful coach.  I have been impressed with the great communication I have had with faculty in recent days as we prepare for our short time out of town.  They’ve been agreeable and supportive of their students who are traveling to represent the College in intercollegiate competition.

Knowing we are prepared and believing in the power of the team meet give us a lot of confidence.  The energy I’ve seen during training raises us even higher.  We’re looking at fast races for the Pioneers!

Having gone through the run-up to a Conference Championship nearly a dozen times as a college coach and four more as a swimmer, I always love the way swimmers come together and revel in the energy of fast racing.  Nothing is better than a big meet with teammates you have pushed your limits with all season.  They supported you, lifted you up, drove you to be better, and inspired you with their own commitment. 

The journey of a season includes millions of strokes.  More importantly, this journey includes some of the most meaningful experiences of a student-athlete’s life.  The Northwest Conference Championship is not merely a goal, but a showcase for everything our team has done right this season. 

At its core, the Championship is a celebration.   

Roll Pios!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

October with the Pios!

The month of November will be a big one for Lewis & Clark swimmers.  Our dual meet season kicks off next week and competitions abound.

For now, Halloween is almost upon us and I think it’s time to take a look back at the past weeks of awesomeness that is Pioneer Swimming!

We are seven weeks into our collegiate season.  Swimmers are training hard in the pool and weight room.  The soreness going around is the product of vigorous exercise and Coach Ange’s strength and conditioning routines downstairs.  We are also seeing some real speed cropping up in our workouts.  Our coaches are pretty stoked for how our athletes look in the water and even more so for how the team is functioning as a family and community in the early season.

Last Friday we dove into competition with the annual Orange & Black Meet, our intra-squad extravaganza.  Race distances are non-standard and there is even a 100 Kick event.  Orange and Black teams were relatively evenly matched, with event wins bouncing back and forth throughout the meet.  In the end, Black edged ahead for a final score of 99-82.

The Orange & Black meet is a fun way to kick into racing mode and get our team cheering ramped up heading into our competition season. 

That same Friday night, several Pios ventured out to a haunted corn maze on Sauvie Island just outside of Portland.  They were in for some scares, some laughs, a few chainsaws, and a lot of mud.  The corn maze has become something of a tradition and one of the many things our team likes to do together.  This, I think, is something that makes for a great team environment.  There are enough activities and outings that there is something for everyone and they can have a lot of fun together when they choose to hang out, without feeling like it’s all required.

Saturday night it seemed like half the city came to campus to see Bill Nye “The Science Guy” live in our gymnasium.  Most of our team was there, along with Coach Sarit and I, plus several swimming alums.   

To our campus community, Bill Nye is pretty much a rock star.  Two of our swimmers, Libby and Momo, got invites to the VIP meet-n-greet with Bill beforehand.  Pretty great night at L&C!

That’s a glimpse into October.  Now we kick into another gear as the team starts hosting and traveling to swim meets.

Tomorrow is Halloween—huge deal on campus—and Saturday is our annual Alumni Swim Meet for Homecoming weekend.  Stay tuned for more swimming action and more fun!

Roll Pios!