While his classmates at Oxbridge Academy spent their summers traveling, on the beach or in dozens of other pursuits, senior Robbie Linck spent his in a lab in Jupiter and in the field, doing research on algae blooms within Lake Okeechobee and the St. Lucie Watershed.
Linck’s project evaluates whether groundwater samples taken from the St. Lucie Watershed contain sucralose, an indicator of the presence of human feces. His findings will assist in determining whether improperly functioning septic systems are a contributing factor to algae growth in the area waterways. He’ll present his findings at the American Water Resource’s Association’s Annual Conference in November.
A native of Palm Beach, Linck has been engrossed in his research project for two years.
Q: How did you get started on the project?
A:It was through the program (Oxbridge teacher Dr. Teresa Thornton) started, “GET WET,” in conjunction with the University of Maine, that I’m able to even do this kind of work at my age.
Q: And then?
A: My research began as a semester-long biology project, but quickly transitioned into the two-year study that I’m still working on today. I chose the issue of algae blooms, and, with the help of Dr. Thornton, I was connected with BioTools, a Jupiter-based biotechnology company, where I conducted a large part of my research
Q: Which do you enjoy more: field research or work in the lab?
A: To be honest, I like them both. Working in the field and getting to really know the area that I’ve been focusing on was very important to me, but using all of the equipment in the lab was equally significant in allowing me to draw conclusions from the samples I’ve collected.
Q: When you’re not in the classroom, the lab or out in the field, how do you stay busy?
A: When I’m not involved in my scientific research, I’m almost always debating. I travel out of town almost every weekend to compete at national debate tournaments and, over the course of my four years at Oxbridge, I have climbed the ranks to now be the number one high school debater in the nation for Public Forum debate, my specific event.
Q: What do you intend to study in college?
A: While I’m passionate about the sciences, over the course of my four years at Oxbridge, I’ve simultaneously developed a love for government, ethics, mathematics and economics. I’m not entirely sure of the field that I want to pursue, but I’m definitely looking for something that will allow me the flexibility to pursue all my interests as well as to continue to develop my debating and research skills.