By FLOREYA QUINTERO
The STEM research lab, also known to many as Amarillo College’s greenhouse, has a new director.
Clarissa Chairez, who joined the college in July 2020, is originally from California, where she studied agriculture and worked for The Walt Disney Co.
“As I learned more about the Amarillo College population, I got to learn more about what AC does to make sure our students are successful beyond the classroom and get them the resources they need,” Chairez said. “That really stood out to me and made me want to be a part of AC.”
According to Adam Lehn, a horticulture major, the STEM building allows growth for the college itself, offering potential for new and unique opportunities.
“The STEM building is an incredible asset,” Lehn said. “I can imagine even four year schools who don’t have access to some of the equipment that our lab has.”
Equipment in the STEM building varies greatly, from CO2 incubators that mimic global warming conditions to root imagers that take 3D images of roots as they grow. The STEM research lab has added a new mass spectrometer to the list of equipment.
The horticulture and chemistry departments will be collaborating in using this new piece of equipment to test pesticide residue in meat and in different plants.
With so many things that are available to students, Teresa Gaus-Bowling, a horticulture instructor, said it’s vital to have good communication with students.
“If you don’t talk to me in class, you’re going to hurt my feelings,” Gaus-Bowling said. “You have to establish a good relationship with students early on. If you’re not comfortable with talking to me and asking questions, you’re not getting 100% out of this course or lab.”
Lehn said that the STEM lab and faculty have definitely helped him deepen his knowledge about horticulture.
“I see some of the equipment and opportunities that exist in the STEM building and I get giddy just imagining the possibilities,” Lehn said.