Stirring up a storm: Oliv Yesker takes on STEM

More stories from Andrea Davenport


Photo Courtesy of Oliv Yesker

Junior Oliv Yesker and group members Marco Oceguera and Peter Kowalski’s research project used organic materials such as fruit peels to purify water.

Rubber gloves gripped the beaker as the contents began to react. Junior Oliv Yesker held the beaker tight as she and her group members waited for the results — water purified by the use of waste materials.

“[We] meet every Wednesday and Thursday, and [Marco Oceguera, Peter Kowalski and I] essentially are working on removing lead from water with fruit peels,” Yesker said.

As the first hands-on research she has participated in and the first year she has been in Reseach Club, Yesker, Oceguera and Kowalski began their research project in October of 2018.

After the success of theirs as well as others’ research projects, science teacher and Research Club advisor Michelle Sachtleben encouraged the research groups to enter their research to the ISU Symposium, a conference for high school students that would like to present their work where it will be judged in different science categories. The conference will be held on April 26; Yesker’s group will be presenting in the chemistry category.

“Junior year is stressful, but she is crushing it with style. … I never know how students balance academics, work, clubs and activities, but Olivia does this better than most. Her ability to cope with life’s stresses is the best I’ve seen. Her balance and her great positive attitude will afford her great success in college and future endeavors,” Sachtleben said.

Not only is Yesker a member of Research Club, but she is also a competitive member of the DGS Math Team, qualifying for the state tournament on May 4. With practices only once a week, the date is fast approaching, and she believes she has gained valuable experience.

“It’s allowed me to look at challenges and tasks in new ways and has taught me how to ask for help in areas I’m weaker in, or help another student understand something they can’t quite grasp. … [I learned to] stay organized and to write things down. If it’s written, you’re less likely to forget it. I like to keep myself busy, so I don’t mind a packed schedule,” Yesker said.

Someone who knows Yesker’s commitment and strive for success well is long-time friend and DGS junior Catherine Kammerer.

“She is incredibly motivated to do well in school because of her yearn to learn new topics. She is heavily involved in math and science, and thoroughly enjoys those classes, which is something many students cannot relate to,” Kammerer said. “People thrive the most when they enjoy what they do, which I think is the case with Oliv. She has expressed her love for math and science to me countless times and I admire her for putting her knowledge to good use. She stays active on Math Team and Research Club because it is something she is passionate about, which is why it is so manageable for her. Without that drive and love for what you do, that is when you can lose motivation.”

Although she has only been a member of Research Club for a short amount of time, Yesker hopes to pursue a career in the research field. She enjoys the hands-on experience and aims to continue applying her math background to her everyday life.

“Considering the path she is on right now, I can see Oliv doing some pretty major things in the future. I know she has expressed wanting to become an actuary or maybe even some sort of chemist, which is exactly what I can picture her doing. I feel like as long as she is happy with her career, she will achieve some of her dreams,” Kammerer said.