Biology Main Folds Origami into Her School Expertise

Elizabeth Argiro first obtained turned on to origami on the age of eight, when her aunt gave her a field of origami paper and an instruction guide as a Christmas current.

“The paper was so stunning,” she stated. “I attempted to make each mannequin in that guide. The final mannequin within the guide took me weeks to determine. You needed to type of rotate the mannequin in your thoughts to determine how to do this final step of folding the wings up. It turned a puzzle. However when it lastly clicked, I used to be hooked.”

Although she didn’t notice it on the time, origami was one thing she would carry ahead into her school profession.

Her curiosity first grew in highschool when her mannequin of a rose was a finalist within the worldwide Origami by Youngsters competitors held by Origami USA, the nationwide origami group for america.

“That inspired me much more as a result of I obtained recognition for one thing that I liked doing,” she stated. Argiro can be named a finalist within the competitors the following two years as effectively.

Argiro, a junior biology main, was passionate sufficient about her pastime to volunteer to show origami courses at her native library and begin an origami membership in highschool, one thing she would repeat when she got here to Stony Brook in 2020, proper in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“All the things was nonetheless on-line once I began school,” she stated. “On the time the origami membership was greater than a membership exercise, it was like main a category. However I labored arduous to make it work as a result of it was one of many solely sources of neighborhood we had. It was necessary.”

Two years later, the Origami Membership has near 200 members, lots of whom are in STEM fields.

“Origami is likely one of the most accessible artwork types for individuals in STEM,” stated Argiro. “We’ve obtained math majors, physics, biology, chemistry, biomedical engineering, sustainability research…it’s all STEM. In case you take a look at the highest origami artists within the US proper now, they’re engineers. They’re individuals at MIT, they’ve PhDs in math and engineering, they’re NASA engineers…they’re scientists who apply their abilities to the artwork type.”

Although origami is just not instantly associated to her biology research, Argiro is interested in the science aspect of the artwork.

“I concentrate on computational biology,” she stated. “That entails making use of computational strategies and mathematical pondering to organic issues. However origami can also be intrinsically mathematical. It’s shapes. There’s an issue on the base of it — how do you remodel a 2D sq. right into a 3D geometrical object? And these objects get tremendous intricate.”

Argiro stated that not solely is origami mathematical, nevertheless it has quite a lot of purposes in engineering.

“For instance, the issue of taking an enormous floor space and compressing it right into a small one and retaining the properties of that materials as a way to increase it again to its unique measurement while you want it to,” she stated, pointing to actual world examples just like the mirrors and occulters of area telescopes, or coronary heart stents. “A coronary heart stent must be skinny sufficient in order that it will probably get by your cardiovascular system and attain your coronary heart, after which it must increase as soon as it will get to the plaque in order that it will probably unblock it,” she stated.

To assist unfold the phrase, Argiro does volunteer work with Mei Lin [Ete] Chan, an assistant professor within the Division of Biomedical Engineering, to coach younger individuals about these purposes and get them keen on science. Argiro has been a part of the Science and Know-how Entry Program (STEP), a program administered by the New York State Training Division to encourage underrepresented minority and low-income secondary faculty college students and put together them for entry into scientific, technical, well being and health-related professions.

“I’ve had an incredible expertise collaborating with Elizabeth and her dream staff within the origami membership for quite a few profitable STEAM (STEM + Arts)-promoting neighborhood outreach occasions,” stated Chan. “Her decisiveness, openness to new concepts and real motivation to make individuals pleased with an simply accessible artwork type have pushed her membership to be probably the most in style pupil teams for collaboration on campus. Integrating artwork with STEM in our outreach packages helps individuals uncover many desirable origami-inspired biomedical engineering and different STEM purposes.”

Along with her work with the origami membership, Argiro pursues one other long-time curiosity of hers by analysis: viruses.

“I’m at present working with Tom MacCarthy, an assistant professor within the Utilized Arithmetic & Statistics Division, on a computational biology challenge,” she stated. “We’re making an attempt to make use of the genetic info of mammalian viruses, their genomes, to see if we will discover predictors of zoonosis, which is when an animal virus jumps to a human virus. That’s one thing that may trigger a pandemic, so it’s a really pertinent query now.”

And whereas origami is just not a part of her present profession plans, Argiro hopes to proceed to be concerned with it as she grows older.

“It’s a fantastic artistic launch,” she stated. “If I’m going to graduate faculty or one other path, it’s very potential that origami may very well be a part of that.”

Go to the origami membership’s show case situated in Frey Corridor.

— Robert Emproto