Tiger's Eye: Perspectives on Research at TAS – Derrick Y. ‘24 & Junui S. '24
By Ina C. '25, Fall Communications Intern
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.
Research at Taipei American School covers a diverse range of topics and can often be found in surprising places. This week, we are bringing you two research projects from Upper School’s Honors Research in Synthetic Biology and AP Language and Composition, by Junui S. '24 and Derrick Y. '24, respectively.
Honors Research in Synthetic Biology is a course for students interested in biotechnology and engineering. The course offers a unique opportunity for high school students to pursue advanced education in bioscience and biomedical science. Students will learn a broad range of skills, from learning to critically analyze results, measuring and testing experiments, and effectively communicating complex ideas through labs involving writing, synthetic biology techniques, and presentation.
In AP English Language & Composition, students will engage in a study of a variety of nonfiction works. Students will learn to identify and explicate an author’s purpose and use rhetorical strategies. This college level course prepares students to write effectively about topics across all disciplines.
Junui took Honors Research in Synthetic Biology in his junior year.
Junui, tell us more about your research project!
My research project, Lit-Tree-Leaves, explores the fascinating possibility of making plants glow like fireflies. Our approach involves the use of two key substances: luciferin and luciferase, which naturally occur in some living organisms.
What motivated you to start this project?
This topic is particularly interesting to me because it triggered my curiosity to explore more in the bioengineering field. I hope this research will eventually lead to my vision of creating light without using electricity.
Tell us about a challenge you faced and how you overcame it.
One of the biggest challenges in this project was following our self-oriented goals to find an answer to our research question. To overcome this, we spent a lot of time planning and refining our approach to make sure it aligned with our original topic.
I am taking this class because I love learning about anything related to science, especially working on an exciting topic like our research project, which is to make plants glow!
Moving from science to humanities, let's now turn our attention over to unique insights humanity-based research offers!
Derrick was in his junior year at the time of this interview.
What motivated you to take AP English Language & Composition?
I decided to take this course to challenge myself, hone my argumentative writing and rhetorical skills, and improve my analysis of writing and presentation.
Tell us more about your research:
My research focuses on understanding potential U.S. policy concerning Taiwan. I’ve been interested in geopolitics and foreign policy for a long time, so this topic is very personal to me. As someone who lives in Taiwan and has family here, I am conscious of cross-strait relations and recent developments. Because of this, I often spend my free time reading more into this area to both enhance my understanding and search for policy developments.
Tell us about a challenge you faced and how you overcame it.
A major challenge I faced during this project was time management. Our presentation was limited to a short, 3–4-minute informative speech, so I struggled at first to condense the complex and nuanced topic into 4 minutes since I was also trying to include further details and address potential counterarguments. This challenge ended up teaching me the value of concision, and how to package my ideas into a short but impactful speech. Since our most common opportunities to persuade others are not hour-long presentations, but rather short, bite-sized elevator pitches made in hallways, over dinner tables, etc., I found this exercise really insightful. I think a common misconception of AP Lang is that it is just an analysis of famous speeches or eloquently written pieces of literature--it certainly is that, but it's also developing understanding of the underlying rhetorical appeals that are used in those famous works, and a lesson how to employ such strategies in your own life, both on a formal and a daily basis.
What are you looking forward to?
Something I'm looking forward to in semester two is our argumentative essays. These are prompted pieces of writing where we sit down with nothing but a question to take a stance on, one short source, and blank pieces of paper. While this can sound terrifying, it's fun because we get to write the whole essay out using our existing knowledge as pieces of evidence, ranging from tidbits on sports to macroeconomic policy. I'm looking forward to continuing work on these essays because they really force you to think in a lot of new ways that you otherwise wouldn't even imagine, connecting random pieces of knowledge to form a coherent, well-developed argument.
Both Junui and Derrick gained invaluable insights from their respective courses, enriching their knowledge beyond their academic achievements. Thank you for sharing your 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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