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Yarong Lin '14

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WINNER: GOLDWATER AWARD, 2013

Yarong Lin wants to know how smart blood cells really are.

She’s a junior at Clarkson, majoring in chemical engineering and applied mathematics and statistics. She already has a long list of accomplishments in the lab -- including winning the prestigious Goldwater scholarship -- as well as an internship and a co-op with Procter and Gamble.

Yarong also entered Clarkson’s Honors Program and, as part of her thesis, she’s conducting research on biofouling—a worrisome process that can happen within the body.

“Human blood cells contain proteins that evolved to protect us from foreign objects, like a sharp tool or the bacteria it carries,” she says. “Clots form as a means of keeping our bodies safe.”

One problem with this, it also happens when medical devices—stents or artificial heart valves—are surgically inserted within the blood stream. This is biofouling. And if the clots get big enough, they can restrict or even stop blood flow, causing a stroke or heart attack.

“Blood cells don’t negotiate, but they can be convinced to not clot—if they think a synthetic surface is actually water,” she says. This is what Yarong is working on. If she’s successful, she’ll know how much a polymer needs to mimic water to prevent biofouling.

Dr. Sitaraman Krishnan is one of her professors in Clarkson’s Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. He says he’s very impressed by Yarong’s abilities—and her drive.

“The quality of her research and her findings are excellent examples of how hard she works and her meticulous attention to detail. In class, she’s at ease analyzing complex, open-ended problems in thermodynamics. In the lab, she’s equally comfortable discovering and analyzing new data. Her aptitude and diligence are truly impressive.”

Yarong has accomplished all this in what is still—for her—a relatively new language.

“I came to the U.S. from China just over four years ago and studied English at my school in New York City.”

That’s where she heard about Clarkson.

“I wanted to study at a small school, where I could conduct research. Science and the work of being a scientist fascinate me.”

Chris Robinson has also worked with Yarong and seen her progress. He’s a Clarkson political science professor who teaches the reading- and writing-intensive course Perspectives in Science and Technology. He taught Yarong when she first arrived on campus.

“I knew immediately she was a brilliant and serious student. After just two short terms together, she achieved a high degree of fluency in English that matched her confidence—and her abilities.”

For her part, Yarong says she found the environment she wants at Clarkson.

“Academically, I really like it here. I got to start working on research when I was a freshman and I love the friends I’ve made in study group. Everyone’s really motivated and we get a lot of support because we’re in close contact with our advisors. They want us to be successful and I like that my professors and advisors are always there to help. Everything’s just better at a small school.”
Yarong Lin

Goldwater Scholar Yarong Lin '14, in the lab