At Suffolk

  • Biochemistry major with a concentration in Forensic Science, minor in Philosophy  
  • Member, CAS Honors Council 
  • Analytical Development intern, Vertex Pharmaceuticals 
  • Research assistant with Denyce Wicht in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry 
  • Study group leader

Since Suffolk

  • Ph. D. candidate in Biological Chemistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel

Why did you choose to study biochemistry coupled with forensic science?

Before applying to college, I was seriously considering studying law, but I had always loved and excelled in STEM. Forensic science seemed like a good fit because it was a branch of science in support of the law. However, because of the “CSI effect,” forensic science had become a very popular field and therefore very competitive. I didn’t want to be limited to only forensic science labs, and that’s why I chose the biochemistry and forensic science track at Suffolk. Although I mostly use the biochemistry portion of my degree, I am glad that I had the forensic science training. Forensic science requires highest standards of observation, reproducibility, and record keeping. I still hold myself to these standards, and it has given me an extra edge in grad school.

How did your Suffolk experience prepare you for your career as a PhD candidate in chemistry?

I was lucky enough to start my research career as a sophomore at Suffolk. This first research opportunity helped me to secure a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates as well as an internship at Vertex Pharmaceuticals before my senior year. By working in two different labs off campus as well as at Suffolk, I was able to become proficient at many techniques that an undergraduate performs only once in their undergraduate lab coursework. I also was able to pick up a wide variety of techniques in different disciplines that helped me be a more attractive candidate to potential grad schools and thesis advisors. I was allowed to be independent while working in the lab at Suffolk, which helped me learn how to manage my bench time, plan experiments with good positive and negative controls, and train the junior research students. I was the first graduate student in my research lab at UNC, and I don’t think I would have ever known how to start up a lab if I hadn’t been given so much independence at Suffolk.

What does a typical day in your job look like?

As the senior graduate student in my lab, I am responsible for lab management as well as my own research. I work in protein engineering, so most of my days are spent cloning genes of interest, expressing and purifying proteins, analyzing protein purity and activity, and working on X-Ray crystal structures. As lab manager, I spend my time reconciling purchase orders, maintaining equipment, defining and enforcing lab and safety protocols, and training new personnel. It’s a lot to juggle but I really enjoy having that variety in my day to day routine.