Tyler Imfeld of Mason (45040), a senior in biology with minors in environmental studies and German at Xavier University, is interning in the lab of the Department of Mineral Sciences at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. He found the 10-week internship at the suggestion of one of his Xavier professors who suggested he apply for summer REUs (research experiences for undergraduates). Tyler arrived in DC a few days prior to beginning the program and lives in an on-campus apartment at George Washington University. He will return to Cincinnati in early August to prepare for his senior year.
To his knowledge, he is the first Xavier student to have an internship at the National Museum of Natural History. He is one of four in the Department of Mineral Sciences and one of 17 spread throughout the museum as part of the Natural History Research Experience (NHRE). Interns in the program come from all over the world.
His research focuses on microbial organisms, specifically fungi and bacteria, found in areas plagued by acid mine drainage. Manganese is a heavy metal and a harmful pollutant of water and soil in areas associated with heavy mining. The organisms he has been studying are able to take this harmful metal out of the water system by converting it to nontoxic manganese oxide minerals. He has studied whether the availability and type of nutritional resources affect the fungi and bacteria’s growth and ability to produce manganese oxides.
While at the National Museum of Natural History this summer, he and all the interns have heard lectures from researchers in each of the museum’s research departments. They have toured the collections and have seen many rare, exciting specimens and artifacts not on public display. At the end of the summer, they will present their research to the public and to the Smithsonian’s scientific community.
Tyler is the son of Stephen and Mary Imfeld and graduated from Mason High School in 2009.