As Helen Madeen ’20 stepped up to present her research at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) conference, the largest international Earth and space science conference in the world, she knew she had the support of the whole Willamette community behind her.
“It was a little scary to present alongside people with PhDs,” Helen admits. “But people asked us tough questions that helped challenge us and think about our project differently.”
Presenting at a premier international research conference is a rare opportunity for an undergraduate — but not at Willamette. Thanks to your support, students like Helen regularly get to work closely with faculty to produce and present cutting-edge research in the sciences and humanities.
Helen’s research investigating a type of mysterious ocean organism called Asgard Archaea was conducted with Rosa León Zayas, assistant professor of biology, and led her to the Oregon coast to collect and analyze ocean sediment samples.
You helped bring Helen’s scientific curiosity to Willamette
The chance to collaborate with professors was an important factor in Helen’s decision to attend Willamette. She didn’t see the same kinds of programs at the larger research universities she considered.
“I wanted to be able to have research opportunities as a student,“ Helen says. “And I liked the idea that research happened in smaller groups, working closely with a professor.”
Because of your support, Willamette is able to offer more than 75 competitive undergraduate research grants annually in a variety of subject areas. This hands-on experience gives Willamette students an edge in pursuing technology careers, graduate study and more.
You led Helen to her next intellectual adventure
Helen’s experience introduced her to her new field of study and helped her develop a lifelong love of research. Now, she plans to attend the AGU conference again, this time as a graduate student at Arizona State University.
“Without that opportunity, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing now,” Helen says. “I wouldn’t have even known about the field without that research experience.”
Helen says that the research experience and conference presentations also made her stand out in the graduate school application process. Her advisor helped her locate programs and people in her field.
As Helen leaves one beloved intellectual community for another, she will never forget the support that brought her to this point.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today without the generous support of the Willamette community,” Helen says. “Your gift not only supports current students while they are at Willamette, it also paves the way for students to continue that support once they graduate.”
Note: This article originally appeared in the 2020 Donor Impact Report. For information on how to give to Willamette, click here.