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Meet Our Learning Assistants: Hannah Schmutz

Hannah Schmutz
Learning By Teaching

“I love learning,” Hannah Schmutz, a learning assistant in Physics 2, says.

“My fascination for the natural world and science culminated in a desire to enter the field of biology.” Through her research group, Hannah discovered that she has a passion for scientific discovery, and plans to dive into research both during school and after.

A senior, Hannah is working towards an honor’s degree in biology with a minor in chemistry. She’s a learning assistant (LA) in Physics 2, highlighting her abilities in many different scientific fields.

As an LA, Hannah helps teach physics concepts during class discussion sections. She also acts as a liaison between the professor and students, passing along concerns and being an advocate for student success within the course.

“I enjoy the camaraderie of working with other assistants and the professor,” she says. Through the LA program, she’s gained insight into what goes on behind the scenes with science classes and how classes are set up. Her teaching in the LA program has helped her learn as a student, corroborating the notion first set forth by the Roman philosopher Seneca that “While we teach, we learn.” In this way, the Learning Assistants program benefits her measurably as she pursues her own studies.

Hannah and her research colleagues focus on antibiotic resistance in bacteria, a major concern in the current age of modern medicine. Specifically, she’s looking at whether antibiotic resistance in bacteria changes with exposure to herbicides. Using PCR and sequencing software, she and her group can track how E. coli DNA mutates in response to the presence of herbicide, as well as the efficacy of its growth.

Prior research indicates that E. coli experiences an increase in antibiotic resistance with certain herbicides. This has a lot of implications for agriculture, but also for everyday garden use, which is why Hannah’s group is attempting to identify specific mutation patterns.

Currently in her seventh semester with the Academic Excellence and Academic Excellence Non-Resident scholarships, Hannah’s also been on the Dean’s List for now fewer than five semesters. She’s inspired by her dad, who persevered to get where he is today as a first-generation college student who went on to medical school to become an interventional neuroradiologist.

A native of Idaho Falls, Hannah Schmutz enjoys playing the violin, watching scary movies, and the performance art of “cosplaying.”

“I love going to nerd conventions,” she confesses, with a laugh.

Story by CJ Siebeneck
Photos credit: Hannah Schmutz, Todd Anderson


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