Imagine looking at a table and seeing the object as molecules reacting to each other, rather than the usual flat, hard-surfaced structure.

Not only does a particular student like this unique way of seeing, he actually prefers it that way.

Creating magic in understanding how genes act with one another, sophomore. Jacob Palumbo proudly calls himself a magician- an open source forever.

From a genuine interest and curiosity with how proteins fold and bind to other substrates, developed into an ongoing research project that Palumbo has been working on since November of last year.

Palumbo was one of five Oregon undergraduate students to receive a $12,000 scholarship from Oregon NASA Space Grant Consortium to continue his research studying surfactants, in an effort to develop an environmentally friendly agent to clean up oil spills. He plans to utilize the scholarship money to continue his research and travel to other science symposiums.

Hoping to end his project next summer, Palumbo’s goal before starting his research was to gain a deeper understanding in seeing how the molecules work mathematically.

While Palumbo wanted to learn and gain more experience for his field, he is anxious to get to the end result.

“The goal is to understand how the addition of a benzene ring near the critical part of the molecule [head of the surfactant] changes the way it interacts with water and itself,” said Palumbo.

Growing up, Palumbo’s parents were very supportive in anything he would apply his mind to.

“Ever since I was young, I was always curious about how cells talk to each other,” said Palumbo. “And then I would think about how we could talk to them in a meaningful way, as in looking at how the genes act with each other.”

Like any other science student collecting data for a project, Palumbo has experienced a few trial and errors.

“It is a lot of extra work and does get frustrating because nothing works,” said Palumbo. “But it is awesome to see a static charge that builds up right when the water and oil meet.”

Not knowing how and where the surfactant will react to water creates a high intense level of interest and curiosity where Palumbo is the audience rather than the magician. With his plate already full with school and collecting data for his on-going research, Palumbo is also competing in the 2015 International

Genetically Engineered Machine competition in October under the “Pacific iGEM Team.” The Pacific iGEM Team is currently the only team from Oregon.

Palumbo works with a couple of other students from Pacific, Portland State University and Portland Community College.

“With a small team that is still growing, we are expecting about four or five other students to help,” said Palumbo. “We’re excited to be able to gather around with very intellectual people worldwide.”

The Pacific iGEM Team is in the process of creating a protein matrix called sclerotin.

This protein matrix is a carbon negative, lightweight and incredibly strong building material that is the same material used by insects to make their hard exoskeletons. Palumbo said, that this material could have the potential in replacing concrete because it could be more durable.

According to the iGEM website, iGEM is the premiere undergraduate Synthetic Biology competition open to high school students and entrepreneurs worldwide.

Participating students and entrepreneurs work in a team and use the provided kit of biological parts given from the Registry of Standard Biological Parts and build biological systems and operate them in living cells.

Imagine looking at a table and seeing the object as molecules reacting to each other, rather than the usual flat, hard-surfaced structure.

Not only does a particular student like this unique way of seeing, he actually prefers it that way.

Creating magic in understanding how genes act with one another, sophomore. Jacob Palumbo proudly calls himself a magician- an open source forever.

From a genuine interest and curiosity with how proteins fold and bind to other substrates, developed into an ongoing research project that Palumbo has been working on since November of last year.

Palumbo was one of five Oregon undergraduate students to receive a $12,000 scholarship from Oregon NASA Space Grant Consortium to continue his research studying surfactants, in an effort to develop an environmentally friendly agent to clean up oil spills. He plans to utilize the scholarship money to continue his research and travel to other science symposiums.

Hoping to end his project next summer, Palumbo’s goal before starting his research was to gain a deeper understanding in seeing how the molecules work mathematically.

While Palumbo wanted to learn and gain more experience for his field, he is anxious to get to the end result.

“The goal is to understand how the addition of a benzene ring near the critical part of the molecule [head of the surfactant] changes the way it interacts with water and itself,” said Palumbo.

Growing up, Palumbo’s parents were very supportive in anything he would apply his mind to.

“Ever since I was young, I was always curious about how cells talk to each other,” said Palumbo. “And then I would think about how we could talk to them in a meaningful way, as in looking at how the genes act with each other.”

Like any other science student collecting data for a project, Palumbo has experienced a few trial and errors.

“It is a lot of extra work and does get frustrating because nothing works,” said Palumbo. “But it is awesome to see a static charge that builds up right when the water and oil meet.”

Not knowing how and where the surfactant will react to water creates a high intense level of interest and curiosity where Palumbo is the audience rather than the magician. With his plate already full with school and collecting data for his on-going research, Palumbo is also competing in the 2015 International

Genetically Engineered Machine competition in October under the “Pacific iGEM Team.” The Pacific iGEM Team is currently the only team from Oregon.

Palumbo works with a couple of other students from Pacific, Portland State University and Portland Community College.

“With a small team that is still growing, we are expecting about four or five other students to help,” said Palumbo. “We’re excited to be able to gather around with very intellectual people worldwide.”

The Pacific iGEM Team is in the process of creating a protein matrix called sclerotin.

This protein matrix is a carbon negative, lightweight and incredibly strong building material that is the same material used by insects to make their hard exoskeletons. Palumbo said, that this material could have the potential in replacing concrete because it could be more durable.

According to the iGEM website, iGEM is the premiere undergraduate Synthetic Biology competition open to high school students and entrepreneurs worldwide.

Participating students and entrepreneurs work in a team and use the provided kit of biological parts given from the Registry of Standard Biological Parts and build biological systems and operate them in living cells.

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