Tiger's Eye: Perspectives on Research at TAS - Dr. Farley and Samuel Wang '23

By Brooke Burns, Communications Manager

Welcome back to Tiger's Eye, a cross-divisional, interdisciplinary highlight of 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 each year 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 this first installment in the 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 covers a diverse range of topics and can often be found in surprising places. Many of our faculty work on their own research projects as part of their Master's thesis or Doctoral dissertations. This week, we're bringing you two research projects, one by faculty member Dr. Irish Farley, and one by recent graduate, Samuel Wang '23, conducted during his senior year at TAS. 

Dr. Farley complete her Doctorate of Education during the 2022-23 school year. Her work as an academic support teacher at TAS is directly informed by her studies.

Dr. Farley, tell us more about your research project!

"I started my research to see how to better support multilingual learners who also have a learning differences requiring additional support services. Having worked at international schools and schools with multilingual learners, this specific intersection of academic and linguistic needs is an important area for educators to explore. This led me to explore effective practices of teacher professional development. For my dissertation research, I conducted a qualitative meta-synthesis and created a framework for effective online teacher professional development."

What inspired you to work on this project as part of your Doctoral dissertation?

"During my research, I learned that most teacher education programs do not sufficiently prepare teachers for working with this population. As an academic support teacher, myself, I work closely with classroom teachers, and their preparation to support both multilingual students and students who require additional academic support is essential."

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

"Starting to write a huge paper like a dissertation is overwhelming; I think this is something that every researcher feels at some point, no matter what level of research they are conducting. I learned to just keep chipping away at it, and to take things one step at a time."

What are you most excited about for this research project?

"Working on my research and finishing my dissertation has allowed me to mentor several of our students conducting research projects for the AP Research class. It was fun to continue to talk about research with students!"

While Dr. Farley researched educational systems and practices, Samuel Wang '23 spent his senior year in Honors Research in Nanotechnology with Mr. Dezieck, looking into the much smaller, but no less complex, world of nanoparticles.

Samuel, what motivated you to take this class?

"I've been interested in nanotechnology for a while now and wanted to continue doing research in this topic. During the Summer of 2020, I interned at Tripod Nanotechnology Corporation where I was able to learn about multiple applications of nanoparticles. Then, in Grade 10, I took Research in Chemistry where I made a fireproof spray using silicon dioxide nanoparticles, and I really enjoyed that project.”

Please tell us more about your most recent project!

“For my most recent project, I am using low pressure chemical vapor deposition on an ice template to create a hydrophobic membrane that can separate oil from water. While there already exists several membranes that can achieve the same thing I am trying to do, none of the current methods use chemical vapor deposition without a mesh-like rough template, which is why I am using this original method. I am also trying to test whether the membrane can more effectively separate oil from water if I include hydrophobic-enhancing nanoparticles.”

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

“When I first started making these hydrophobic membranes, I intended to only use the precursor, parylene C, to create the membrane. However, the resulting membrane was too fragile and would easily tear when a little bit of force is applied. To solve this issue, I asked my mentors at NTU how I can increase the toughness of the membrane, to which they said to add cellulose nanofibers to enhance the mechanical properties. Even with this information, I still had to experiment using different concentrations of the cellulose nanofiber solution. Nonetheless, after several trials, I was able to obtain a membrane with a much more stable structure that I am satisfied with.”

Thank you, Dr. Farley and Samuel, for sharing your fascinating research with us! The ideas, large and small, that our community continuously question and explore each year are always exciting to read about in Tiger's Eye. If you missed the 2022-23 articles, you can read the other installments in the Tiger’s Eye series below.


2022-23 Tiger's Eye Articles