Taylor Burchard '22
Research experiences open world of possibilities in astrobiology
By seeking hands-on opportunities in the sciences at Whitworth, biology major Taylor Burchard '22 has discovered a curiosity about outer space and developed the diverse skill set she'll need to study it in graduate school.
Burchard has been heavily involved with the Whitworth Engineering & Physics Department. Not only has she worked as a research assistant in the Microdevices Lab for two years, but she has also been part of the department's CubeSat nanosatellite project and has experimented in near space in one of her classes. "(The latter two experiences) both involved outer space and high altitudes," Burchard says. "I began to see how biology could be applied toward outer space, and I found overlap in the sciences to be exciting."
A co-founder of Whitworth's Astronomy Club, Burchard is currently applying to graduate programs in astrobiology, a field that combines the life sciences and physical sciences. "It is an interdisciplinary field that searches for extraterrestrial life, clues to the origins of life, potentially habitable planets, and more," she says. "My allure to outer space is motivated by the beauty and mystery of it. I am inquisitive about biology, physics, astronomy and the way the universe works."
Burchard says her experience as a student researcher in Assistant Professor Philip Measor's lab has prepared her well for her future. "Becoming a member of the Microdevices Laboratory with Dr. Measor was the highlight of my undergraduate academic experience," she says. "Working in this laboratory exposed me to how biology and engineering can work together to create something applicable to both fields."