Posted December 6, 2012 by Cooper Point Journal in Campus Life

Student Spotlight: Alex Stambor

Alex Stambor is passionate about the sciences. A fifth-year senior pursuing a dual Bachelor of Arts and Science degree, Stambor is currently immersed in the upper-division science program Environmental Analysis. The program’s emphasis on microscopic aspects of ecology aligns well with Stambor’s interests. “I really like biology and chemistry. I’d say that I focus predominantly on biology. I really like microbiology – I really like the molecular aspects of living things.”

In addition to keeping up with upper division science coursework, Stambor tutors at the Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning Center (QuaSR) on campus. “I really enjoy tutoring because I’m really enthusiastic about chemistry and biology, and I really like infecting other people with that enthusiasm. I think that life on earth and the chemicals that make it up are just absolutely incredible,” said Stambor.

Before coming to Evergreen, Stambor lived in Seattle and worked at a Hollywood Video store in the Seattle area. According to Stambor, the Evergreen State College’s approach to education brought him to Olympia. “I’ve always gone to alternative schools and it was just kind of the logical progression for colleges. That and it’s local,” he said. After initially studying the history of popular culture, Stambor changed his focus to natural sciences.

Science programs introduced Stambor to faculty Dharshi Bopegedera and Jim Neitzel, who he cites as his most influential professors. Stambor credits his love of chemistry to a general chemistry course taught by Bopegedera. According to Stambor, his overall experience with science faculty and programs has been outstanding. “I think what’s great about Evergreen is how much confidence we put in our students. I have never heard of another undergraduate school that has devoted so much time and effort to undergraduate researchers,” he said. Opportunities in training on laboratory instruments provide students with advantages in applying for jobs and graduate schools, according to Stambor. “It’s just wonderful hands-on application that you won’t find at any other undergraduate school,” he said.

Stambor’s current program, Environmental Analysis, is a year-long interdisciplinary program that provides students with skills for conducting independent experiments in the spring. The program kicked off its fall quarter with a trip to Yellowstone National Park, the Columbia River Gorge and Grand Coulee Damn. Photoland’s “Inside Evergreen” blog featured the Yellowstone portion of the trip in a “One Minute at Evergreen” multimedia presentation. According to Stambor, the entire trip was incredible. When asked what his favorite part was, he said,“The Norris Geyser Basin [at Yellowstone] because it’s beautiful, it’s stark, [and] it’s full of amazing life forms that are living in super-hot sulfuric acid.”

The extreme environments in Yellowstone combine unusual chemical and biological conditions that are as famous for attracting scientists as they for drawing in artists and outdoor enthusiasts. Tutoring in the QuaSR allows Stambor to share his scientific knowledge with people studying a variety of disciplines. “I really think that that’s an awareness that more people need to have even if they’re not [specifically] into the sciences or biology or chemistry,” he said.

Stambor maintains his love of popular culture through films, novels, and music. His past and present areas of study overlap with his expertise on science fiction literature. Most recently, Stambor read Wind-Up Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi. “[Bacigalupi] is my really good friend’s high school lit teacher. It’s one of the most incredible science fiction books I’ve read.” When asked his all-time favorite science fiction novel, Stambor said, “It’s a toss up between Left Hand of Darkness and Ender’s Game. Gotta go with the classics.” There was no hesitation when it came to the film he most wishes he wrote or created. “Robocop,” said Stambor.

By Cassandra Johnson-Villalobos