A Returning Legend

Ann Bernert, former WLHS student, returns as an ISEF coach to inspire and help students.


Brittany Park

Ann Bernert, OSU graduate, will take over the ISEF Coach position at WLHS this year. Bernert decided to fill in the ISEF Coach position after discovering a love of working with high school students since teaching a high school internship.

Ever since second grade when Bob Carlson, director of the Center of Research in Environmental Sciences and Technologies, came into Ann Bernert’s second grade classroom to talk about magnets, she developed an interest for science. In middle school, science was her favorite class. In eighth grade Bernert, former student and ISEF particpant at WLHS, experienced the color-changing transition of a chemical reaction and found it fascinating.

“I remember thinking ‘Oh my gosh, that changed colors in like, two minutes!’” Bernert said. “Back then it was more of that magical aspect.”

That fascination carried into her high school career and Bernert decided to take part in ISEF, which gave her the opportunity to put her curiosity and fascination to use, and a chance to do some real research. She started a project her freshman year called; Optimizing novel Phragmidium violaceum in vitro inoculations for advancing Rubus armeniacus biological control. This involved  controlling the Himalayan blackberry bush using a fungus called blackberry rust. Her project won many first place state and district awards, and led her to going to internationals. For the rest of high school, Bernert entered international science fairs like “Intel” and “I-SWEEEP.” As a senior, she became a semifinalist for the Intel Science Talent Search and won $1000 for WLHS.

Last year when Julia Betts, former ISEF Coach, left the coaching position to pursue a different career path Bernert stepped in as the new coach.

“Science and ISEF was and is my life. I did do other stuff, it’s not the only thing I did, but I took ISEF very seriously,” Bernert said.

In 2011 Bernert graduated from WLHS, and began studying bioresource research as her major at Oregon State University after a judge recommended her to enter the field.

“I chose a pretty small major because it’s one of the harder majors and there are not a lot of people who do it,” Bernert said. “A judge in my senior year recommended I try it out, so I did and then I realized that the major really was perfect for me.” As an undergraduate at OSU, Bernert also had a chance to teach and coordinate a high school laboratory internship. It was then that Bernert realized she enjoyed working and helping high school students. After graduating from OSU in July, Bernert received an email from Schauer, inviting her to be an ISEF mentor, and accepted the offer.

Now, as an ISEF coach, Bernert hopes to be a helpful mentor, friend and counselor.

“I have tremendous respect for Amy and I want to help out other students too, the same way she helped me,” Bernert said. She looks forward to the district fair in Feb., where all West Linn ISEF projects will be displayed.

“I am so excited for our district fair. It’s going to be so cool,” Bernert said. “Just working with students throughout the year and then seeing it all compiled in one event. I’ll feel so proud of everyone!”