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Iris Parke ’23 Wins Award for Summer Research

Iris Parke ’23 spent the summer on a prestigious Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) fellowship in Oceanography at Texas A&M University and won a prize for best student research project.

Parke, a senior double-majoring in Biomedical Sciences and Dance, was one of 10 students selected to participate in the REU Observing the Ocean, which was held by Texas A&M’s Department of Oceanography and funded by the National Science Foundation. As part of the program, she spent 10 weeks conducting geochemistry research. Parke participated in two research cruises, one a day long in Galveston Bay and the other three days in the open ocean of the Northern Gulf of Mexico.

When not at sea, she spent her days in the laboratory of Texas A&M professor Yina Liu, Ph.D., researching the organic composition of peatlands. It branched off the research Parke does at MMC with Chair of the Department of Natural Sciences and Professor of Chemistry  Alessandra Leri, Ph.D. Peatlands are statistically significant carbon sinks, and the objective of the project is to determine their chemical composition to better understand how they store carbon so efficiently in hopes of mitigating climate change.

At the end of the summer, Parke was able to determine multiple suspected chemical structures that are present within peatlands, a great advancement to the research project. Her oral presentation at the REU symposium at the end of the summer was selected as the best science research project. Parke’s prize was a travel grant; this summer, she will have the opportunity to travel to Palma de Mallorca, Spain, and Lyon, France, to present her REU work at two international science conferences.

Congratulations, Iris Parke! We’re #MMCProud of you!

Published: October 11, 2022