Pinar Garbioglu ’22 investigates fairy tales and folk lore through Magellan Project

Created: September 13, 2019
Last Updated: December 13, 2019

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WASHINGTON, PA (Sept. 13, 2019)—An interest in folklore combined with classes at Washington & Jefferson College and the support of the Magellan Project led biochemistry major Pinar Garbioglu ’22 to the United Kingdom for an unforgettable trip.

Pinar started her time at W&J as an English major and was still studying in this program when she planned her Magellan. The flexibility to change paths at W&J is something Pinar appreciates, and she found that studying across disciplines is a valuable part of her College experience.

“While I am no longer an English major…this project enhanced my understanding of the classes I had taken during the school year and prepared me for future research projects where I will be traveling outside of the country,” she said.

Pinar traveled to England, Ireland, and Scotland where she visited several museums and spots related to fae, a type of mythical creature similar to elves and pixies found in European folklore, and fairy tales. She researched how prevalent the fae are in urban settings in comparison to more rural areas, and found that these types of stories are more typical in less developed areas, where the lore has had more time to take root and become engrained in the culture. Pinar concluded this could be the case because throughout history the smaller towns have had less exposure to trade with other countries who have their own customs, thus making it easier to maintain their old traditions.

She drew on her lab experience to conduct her literary research.

“I observed what was apparent and drew possible conclusions that made the most sense with the data I obtained,” she said. “Unlike my science courses, this data is much less quantitative and more qualitative. Though, funnily enough, science is essentially the same process, just with more tests to support a hypothesis.”

In addition to what she’s learned in class, connections with her peers and professors gave Pinar a foundation that made it easier for her to complete her Magellan.

“W&J really helped me prepare for a project of this magnitude by providing resources, including help from other students and the professors. [Professor of English] Dr. [Linda] Troost was very helpful when I came up with my idea and helped me make sure my proposal was researchable but still interesting,” Pinar said.

In May 2020, she will travel with W&J to China to do a chemistry research project. She also plans to spend a semester abroad at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. After W&J, she intends to pursue a career as a physician.

Learn more about Pinar’s research through her Magellan Project blog.

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