Tiger's Eye: Perspectives on Research at Taipei American School with Ariel L. '23 and Jay Ann K. '23

By Ina C. '25, Spring 2023 Communications Intern

See our previous Tiger's Eye highlights:

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. 

This week, we're bringing you two research projects that our students in AP Research are working on throughout the year: "The Impact of Social Media on the Perception of Fashion" by Ariel L. (‘23) and "Hypoxia-Induced Fluorescence of E.coli for Tumor Detection" by Jay Ann K. (‘23). 

This class focuses on the essential research skills that students will need at university and teaches them how to narrow down a broad area of interest into a well-defined question that can be studied and shared. From learning how to develop and apply their methodology, analyze their collected data, and present their results, the class provides a structured environment for this process from start to finish.

Ariel is one of the Grade 12 students taking AP Research this year.

Ariel, tell us more about your research project!

“The AP Research project I am currently working on is about how consumers perceptions of social media posts influences their purchase intentions. By using descriptive research to collect and analyze data, I want to have a holistic understanding of this subject. While many studies and research in the past have looked at the impacts of fashion consumption and reasons for high fast fashion consumption, there is still a continuation of fast fashion consumption which encouraged me to study my topic.”

What motivated you to start this project?

“I have always been interested in fashion and how it can be used as a tool used to define oneself and influence others, I wanted to go more in depth into a specific aspect of this issue. Specifically, I considered the use of marketing techniques, focusing on social media to better understand how it impacts the way fast fashion grows at such an accelerated rate.”

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

"My original scope was a lot wider because I wanted to explore a variety of factors that can potentially influence consumer purchase behaviors.  However, after discussing with my teacher and consultant, I decided to narrow my topic to social media for high school consumers at TAS since that would be the most accessible group of people to survey and they are directly exposed to the medium.”

As the semester wraps up, what are you looking forward to in the final months of AP research?

"For the rest of the year, I look forward to continuing to develop my research paper and working to edit the content. Since I have already collected and analyzed most of my data, I plan to work with my classmates, teacher and consultant to further organize my final paper. I am also excited for the presentations as it will give me practice to communicate effectively in an engaging way.”

Jay Ann is another senior enjoying our AP Research course. While Ariel’s project is centered around the fast fashion culture, Jay Ann decided to focus her research on potential cancer treatments. Let’s hear more about it from her!

Jay Ann, tell us more about your research project.

My research revolves around designing and engineering a bacterial tumor detection mechanism that fluoresces under the hypoxic (low oxygen) microenvironment of tumors, essentially acting as a biosensor. Despite the vast array of cancer treatments available, by the time most cancers are detected, many treatments are no longer a viable option for many patients. Inspired to tackle the issue of early cancer detection, I conducted literature research on the indicators of tumor progression and chose to focus on hypoxic conditions, which are prevalent in all tumors.  

Having learned the knowledge and skills needed to engineer bacteria from taking Honors Research in Synthetic Biology my junior year, I hope to use bacteria as vessels for innovation and create a fluorescing bacterium which can detect tumors during their early stages, resulting in greater treatment efficacy.  

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

“My original project revolved around the quorum sensing (bacterial communication/signaling) trait found in V.fischeri (a marine bacterium). However, after many attempts to clone the sensing traits into E.coli, I decided to dedicate a greater emphasis on tumor environment biomarkers and other ways I can modify E. coli to act as a tumor detection system.  

What are you looking forward to as this AP Research courses comes to an end?

“I look forward to conducting experiments on my final prototype to see whether the bacteria that I engineered performs its given function. I am also eager to share my work with the TAS community and raise awareness on developing technologies that can detect cancer at its early stages”

Thank you, Ariel and Jay Ann, for sharing your AP research projects and the valuable lessons that you have learned! Congratulations on all the effort and hard work that you have put into your projects so far. 

You can read the first installment in our Tiger's Eye series and join us at the upcoming AP Research showcase would be held on April 27, Thursday, during FLEX in the USIC. Be sure to come and learn more about the other outstanding research projects from our students. Keep an eye out for the next installment of this research series, there are many more amazing projects to share!