Weaving a Web of Data

Faces: Olivia Queisser cover

Olivia Queisser | Class of 2024 | Corvallis, OR

H.B.S. BioResource Research | Plant Growth & Development option

Bioproducts option | Chemistry minor | Honors College

Art-Sci Fellowship 2022-23

Atmosphere of Creativity

I've always loved anything creative. I love to play piano, draw, and paint. Recently I've been enjoying learning textile arts - sewing and weaving. Right now, music is my main creative outlet. When I'm not studying, I spend a lot of time playing music in the OSU marching and pep band. Many of my friends here have been in band with me. It has also offered me the opportunity to travel, most recently to Las Vegas for the 2022 Bowl Game! I enjoy the fact that there is always something to learn and improve on. I train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for the same reasons - there is always room for improvement. It's a tough but rewarding sport. I like that it is an individual sport that still has a strong sense of community, and the encouraging atmosphere in the gym. Being active is important to me, so I also love to ride my bike as much as I can!

Adding to the Bank

I chose BioResource Research because I liked the emphasis on research, how I could cater my option courses towards my interests, and the welcoming community I felt from peers and faculty associated with the major. Within my major, I chose Plant Growth & Development as well as Bioproducts as my options because I knew my interests lay in natural sciences that could be applied in sustainability capacities. It was this same motivation that drew me to the research I'm conducting for my thesis. I am studying how the nutrients provided to spalting fungus during growth affect pigment production. The pigment, xylindein, has value due to its many uses - but reliably getting the fungus to produce pigment proves to be difficult. I hope that my research can contribute to the bank of knowledge that will eventually allow for the pigment to be used to its fullest capacity.

Expressing Scientific Emotion

This year, I am part of the Art-Sci Fellowship. I am passionate about the connection between art and science. I believe that scientific knowledge and discoveries are only as useful as how well they can be communicated. We often use specific, unique language when communicating our findings to other scientists. This helps us avoid technical miscommunications and is efficient. But it is unreasonable to expect everyone to be a scientist all the time. What about when we want to convince people why science is important, or communicate the magnitude of importance a discovery has? In order to enact change, you have to move people emotionally - it's part of being human! We should turn to art to communicate in this capacity. Creating a bridge between art and science is what the Art-Sci fellowship is all about.

Unraveling Biases

I'm in the process of using preliminary data from my thesis research and turning it into an art piece. I'm using weaving as a medium for this piece. My favorite part about weaving as a medium is the different textures you can create with various materials and patterns. The piece is meant to transform raw data into visual art that still holds the same information - it will be up to the viewer to interpret the information however they wish. I find this idea beautiful: the same piece of information will elicit different responses from everyone, just how data can be interpreted many ways. In my art piece, I want to focus on expanding and encouraging many interpretations of my data, rather than trying to restrict any biases or incorrect conclusions like I would in my formal thesis.

Communal Connectedness

Contrary to having a light bulb moment, I have slowly come to value my creative side when studying science. Growing up, my parents deeply encouraged me to enjoy creating art of all kinds - music, drawing, and painting were my favorite mediums. I remember my parents bringing me to country music jams as young as four years old. The halls felt huge, and they were filled with the sound of 70 seventy-year-olds all playing guitar, bass, banjo, and fiddle in unison. Sometimes they were out of tune or tempo, but they were all playing together! I don't recall specific details from those jams, but I was left with the understanding that music - a communal creation - was a deeply human and powerful force that connected people who were otherwise unlike. I feel that sense again playing in a band with my family, and in school bands all the way into college. When you create together, you connect with people. I want to bring that into my scientific career. Too often, I feel science is stifled by formalities or individualism. Science is an art too! It is the creation of new knowledge.