Andrew L. '24 and Janise C. '24

By Brooke Burns, Communications Manager 

Welcome to Tiger's Eye, a cross-divisional, interdisciplinary highlight into the research going on at TAS. Asking questions and using a systematic process of inquiry and discovery to arrive at the answer isn't just something you do in the lab or the library (although, we've got plenty of that, too!) Follow along to learn how TAS researchers of all ages and in all areas learn more about the world around them and share their findings with the community. 

We are pleased to share the next installment in this series for the 2023-24 school year! Do you have research you'd like to share? Be sure to contact Ms. Burns, Communications Manager, to learn more about how to share your research with the community. 

Research at Taipei American School can often intersect in surprising ways. This week, we're bringing you two research projects on water, which come to us from Andrew L. '24 as part of Honors Chemistry Research, from SY21-22, and from Janise C. '24 in AP Language and Composition during SY22-23. Despite being very different courses, both Andrew and Janise explored the importance of safe drinking water, and how to ensure that water, once contaminated, can be cleaned and purified for reuse in the water system.  

Janise, tell us more about your research project! 

“My research topic was on the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), specifically, the amendments made to it in 1996. These amendments added several hurdles the EPA has to jump through in order to regulate water contaminants. In spite of growing evidence that many containments, such as poly-fluoroalkyl substances, pose health risks, the SDWA has not officially regulated any containments over the past twenty years. Unfortunately, contaminated water disproportionately affects communities of women and people of color due to reduced political and economic power. Overall, aside from being an environmental issue, this is also a major health concern.” 

What inspired you to work on this project as part of AP Language and Composition? 

“I took up this course because of the opportunities it offers to engage with challenging texts and ideas, which allows students to develop critical thinking skills that I believe are valuable in different aspects of life. This project is an extension of that; I believe everyone deserves access to safe drinking water, and it is important to find solutions wherever possible."

While working on this project and designing your research, did you encounter any challenges? How did you overcome them?  

“For me, it was challenging to find the right balance between how much time I should allocate to describing the problem over what solutions were actually possible. This is because while there are many issues currently stemming from the lack of regulation, it is important to recognize potential solutions to such concerns rather than just mourning those who have been harmed.” 

What are you most excited about for this research project? 

“Research has helped me tremendously improve my writing skills!” 

While Janise was researching the impact of contaminated water and poor regulation, just a few floors away in the science labs, Andrew L. '24 was exploring the kinds of solutions that Janise's research called for in her work.  

Andrew, what motivated you to take Honors Chemistry Research? 

“I took Honors Chemistry Research because I enjoy researching new topics and finding my own solutions to solving real-world issues, like the issue of purifying contaminated water and improving water access to all in an efficient manner. There was a lack of research in finding energy and cost-efficient methods for water in less developed nations, so I wanted to test some solutions out. “ 

Please tell us more about your project!   

“My research is titled "Investigation of the Effectiveness of Aquatic Plants in Filtering Contaminated Water" and it is published in a peer-reviewed journal titled "Sustainable Chemical Engineering." I evaluated how effectively aquatic plants can filter contaminated water (especially household sewage water). This research is inspiring to me because aquatic plants in a constructed wetland create a natural and cheap alternative to filtering contaminated water that countries of any development level can use. Applying this simple and affordable solution can help provide clean water for millions of people globally.” 

You can read the published article here, courtesy of Andrew!

What was one of the challenges you encountered when preparing your research project on such a complex issue? How did you solve it? 

“While working on my project, I had to fix my experimental setup because finding the right concentration of contaminants to put into my testing solution water was difficult. An individual aquatic plant cannot filter many contaminants, so finding the right amount of plants to put in per trial was a challenge.”  

Author's note: Reader, if you're wondering, Taipei American School is not (yet?) home to a wetland on campus for students like Andrew to test their research, making this project all the more impressive! 

What are you looking forward to during your senior year? 

“I look forward to using more new machines and tools to conduct even more meaningful research!” 

Thank you, Janise and Andrew, for sharing your fascinating research with us! 

You can read the other installments in the Tiger’s Eye series below.

See you next time for another look through our Tigers’ eyes!  

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