Hometown: Clarkston, MI
Study Abroad: Aberdeen, Scotland
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: Cinnamon
Best Adjective to Describe You: Nerd-alicious
In 10 words or less, why should someone want to be a part of this department?
Be-Ca-U-Se we laugh at silly chemistry puns! (Not my best…)
When did you know you wanted to study this area? What pathway led you to this department?
I thought I wanted to study in this area before entering college but this goal was really solidified during my first year at K. During high school I had very good chemistry teachers and they taught me how awesome and mind-blowing (this is a good thing) chemistry can be. At this time, I also learned a lot about nutrition and this experience lead me to where I am today, wanting to pursue a field such as nutritional biochemistry.
What is the best way to get (and stay) connected to this department?
When you start out, be an active learner in class by asking questions, answering questions, and participating in study groups with your friends. Make sure to take the time to get to know your professors a bit by talking to them outside of class or going to office hours because they are wonderful resources and are very nice people (really, they are!). Also, participate in student groups like ACS, ASBMB, or come to events in DOW such as the DOW Open, and the DOW-bq.
What would you miss the most if you were no longer a part of this department?
I would miss taking classes and having study groups with all of the other chemistry majors as well as being taught by the wonderful chemistry faculty. They are definitely the nerdiest, quirkiest, and coolest group of people on campus!
What are your career aspirations/next steps after K?
I have tentative plans to take a gap year to do an English teaching assistantship in Macedonia before heading off to graduate school. After that I would like to pursue a PhD in biochemistry because I really enjoy doing research and learning about science. I would eventually like to end up as a faculty member at a small college like K where I can do my own research (maybe related to the effects of nutrition or natural products on disease) and teach chemistry to the next generation of scientists.
What has been the biggest surprise you have encountered at K?
The biggest surprise I have encountered at K is how diverse so many of the science majors are. It is really great to see students who have a real passion about doing science but also have interests in and are really talented at other things like: sports, visual and/or performing arts, and music.
How does your department connect to your other interests and activities?
My department directly connects to my interest in the local food movement and being sustainable because chemistry can describe many of the phenomena that are involved in environmental issues that are addressed by eating locally and living sustainably. My other interests, such as dancing with the campus group Frelon, reading, or knitting are more distantly related to chemistry but are still related to my enjoyment of learning which drives my passion for science.
What has been your favorite class at K? Why?
One of my favorite classes that I have taken at K (it is very hard to choose just one) has been Physics in the Biosciences. I enjoyed this class because it allowed me to think about biological systems and biochemistry in a new way. This class forced me to recognize that oftentimes, it is best to approach a problem from multiples perspectives, such as the perspective of a physicist, chemist, and biologist as well as the importance of being able to think and communicate in multiple ways for different audiences. We covered topics from optics and microscopy to quantum mechanics and photosynthesis. I definitely recommend this class if you like to think about why and how the world works the way it does.
What is your SIP?
My SIP is focusing on how a drug that is prescribed for the treatment of diseases such as cancer associated bone metastases and osteoporosis can lead to osteonecrosis (cell death) of the jaw. Briefly, it is thought that this drug inhibits the activity of a specific drug-metabolizing enzyme found in the jaw. One function of this enzyme is to metabolize arachidonic acid to compounds called EETs and it is thought that EETs function to support cell growth, especially the growth of blood vessels. So, if this enzyme is inhibited by the drug, blood vessels around the jaw cannot survive and the bone tissue dies.