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Discovery is her forte

by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - During a Saturday Academy class held a couple of years ago at the Oregon Coast, several students learn about a robot that evaluates the marine environment and is controlled by a computer program. Pictured among the students (tall teenager at far right) is Miranda Keogan, 17, of Eagle Creek.

Eagle Creek teen earns a job as a summer intern for a PSU scientific research professor


Estacada High School senior Miranda Keogan (pronounced "co-gan") is setting an example for her classmates.

Not only has she been accepted in Saturday Academy classes in previous years, but this year she won an eight-week internship position at Portland State University.

In her acceptance letter, Keogan was told she was one of only 140 accepted for the Saturday Academy Apprenticeships in Science & Engineering (ASE) program. Just one in four applicants made the cut.

"This year's competition for internships was fierce," said Andrea Raven, director of the program.

But Keogan's dedication to science and knowledge of mathematics set her apart in the minds of those making selections for the ASE program, which offers a stipend to each participant.

Also impressive were the words of the essays she wrote as well as the words written by those adults who recommended her for the program.

Keogan has researched and studied several types of animals and environments in previous years, but marine science is one of her major interests.

That's why she is happy to be involved with Prof. Elise Granek, Ph.D., in a program that will measure the effects of new contaminants on various species of marine life.

Granek is a research professor in the Environmental Science and Management Department at Portland State.

Keogan's area of research involves measuring the effects of various types of contaminants on mollusks housed in what she called a "wet lab."

She is excited to go to work each day of the ASE program, she said, because the marine environment motivates her.

Still trying to determine the direction of her life, Keogan now seems torn between environmental science and marine science. That makes Granek the perfect mentor for a teenager looking for her life's path.

"I'm just exploring this work to see if I will develop a strong interest," Keogan said.

But what is obvious: She's interested enough to invest a month applying for the position and two months of her summer working eight-hour days.

She's basically a volunteer because the ASE program is designed as a learning experience, and the stipend generally covers just transportation expenses and food for the two months.

That means she must be self-motivated. And it's the topics of science and the natural environment that move Keogan to gain new knowledge.

"This subject (science) is easy for me because I'm good at science and math," she said. "There's so much to it - so much to discover - and that makes it interesting."

The word "discover" in Keogan's statement is revealing. She admitted she loves to read mysteries and relishes discovering things that are unknown.

Since that's one of the requirements of a scientific researcher, it would seem Keogan is heading in the right direction for a rewarding lifelong career.

For more information on the ASE program, visit saturdayacademy.org/ASE.



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