When Martin Weith, an undergraduate senior in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, was looking for something to fill his ME 392 class (a technical elective course that is required to graduate), he came across the opportunity to do research in Professor Alexander Yarin’s laboratory over the summer (of 2014). Weith, who is considering a career in research when he graduates, thought this would be an excellent way to find out what the job is like. After speaking with Professor Yarin and his team, Weith passed the interview and actively jumped in to the research project, which focused on creating a breathable, biodegradable “band-aid” to prevent vines (like grape vines) from being attacked by fungi after they have been pruned.
By the end of his summer term, Weith, was hooked. He found the research and lab lifestyle very interesting, decided to stay on past his class requirements—until the end of the year. “The research was a great experience and a different take on engineering than I had expected,” said Weith. “There was a lot of freedom in the ways problems and experiments were approached. In classes labs are basically already set up as far as procedure goes, but when you are the one who has come up with the experiments it is a lot harder and sometimes frustrating. After a while you start seeing trends in results, and are able to formulate a basic structure for the types of experiments that will help with your hypothesis.”
Along with expanding his understanding of how to do good research, Weith also got a real taste of what it is like to work in a professional research setting. “I learned a lot about the communal interactions within a lab. Sometimes you have to cooperate in a small testing setting with overlapping experiments, and make it work.”
At the end of his six months in Professor Alexander Yarin’s laboratory, Martin Weith’s interest and hard work paid off. The study was published in the Journal of Materials Chemistry B, listing him as the third author. The research also caught the attention of the Royal Society of Chemistry, which spoke to Professor Yarin, and published an article in its Chemistry Works blog.
As Martin Weith prepares for graduation in May, he has one recommendation for MIE students who have an interest in learning about research. “[Working in Professor Yarin’s lab] was a great insight into the work and lives of those who work in labs. I suggest [looking for] this kind of opportunity to anyone who is interested in going into a science or engineering based career.”
To read the abstract published in the Royal Society of Chemistry: Click here »
To learn more about Professor Alexander Yarin’s research and laboratory, please visit: The Multiscale Mechanics and Nanotechnology Laboratory.