AV Staffer Investigates "Chemical Origin of Life" at NASA-funded Research Center

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Katie Farley, Senior Biochemistry major and AV Equipment Circulation Manager recently interned with the NASA-funded Center for Chemical Evolution (CCE) at Georgia Institute of Technology. The goal of the group, Farley reported, is to investigate the chemical origin of life.

"What I'm doing is actually called a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU). Participating in a REU program has allowed me to work in a research lab, as well as take part in a lot of fun things. They took us all over Atlanta. I've been zip-lining and even got a private tour of the Coca Cola research labs, and also went to the Atlanta aquarium," Farley recalled. "I worked in the lab of Dr. Nicholas Hud and worked toward the goal for the CCE which is ‘finding molecules with the ability to self-assemble into RNA- or protein-like polymers' which would ‘, represent a major advancement in the field of molecular self-assembly, and prove abundantly useful to synthetic chemists' according to the CCE website."

Farley, daughter of Stephanie and Robert Farley, hails from Bangor, Pennsylvania. She is an active student, having continually researched and presented nationally, that challenges herself, as she is enrolled in the college Honors Program. She assisted with research aside Dr. Sarah Kennedy, Westminster Chemistry professor, presented at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research, the Tri-beta NE-3 District Convention and multiple times at the Undergraduate Research and Arts Celebration at Westminster. She is a Drinko Center research grant and Skurcenski Scholarship recipient for Chemistry, among other honors.

"The internship helped me solidify my decision to pursue a PhD in biochemistry. I love doing research and learning so much. I've also gotten to make connections with several people there that can greatly influence my career," she said.

Farley is starting her fourth year of work in AV Services.  She started as Head McKelvey Support Technician, then was promoted to Assistant Technical Support Manager and currently provides outstanding service to the college community as Equipment Circulation Manager.  Some of that AV experience served her well during her days with the CCE.

"Similar to AV, I worked with a lot of people including faculty and students. I have taught others through multiple talks and presentations. By mentoring others in AV, I've learned how to be a better mentee and how to explain complicated subjects in a way that the general public can understand," Farley added. "My technology experiences have given me great confidence in preparing and delivering presentations and posters."

The Audio Visual department creates a fitting environment for personal growth and valuable experience, providing students the rare opportunity to earn money while enhancing critical marketing skills and providing professional services to the academic community, bettering students' college experience and fortifying them for future endeavors.

For more information about AV Services and employment in the department, please contact director Gary Swanson at (724) 946-7188 or avstaff@westminster.edu.


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Farley visits Piedmont Park in Midtown Atlanta.




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The CCE sponsored students and faculty advisor/head of the CCE, Dr. Nicholas Hud. (Center, with glasses.)




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Farley is joined by fellow WC student Katherine Francois, and Westminster alumnus Dr. Christine Conwell who works for the CCE.




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Farley and a number of the REU students at Georgia Tech