Meet Our Students

Lauren Griffin (2018) Majoring in Chemistry-Business

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In high school, I had a great experience with chemistry due to my enthusiastic teacher and realized that I enjoyed the subject enough to want to continue with it. I’ve known for a few years that I wanted to work in the field of food allergy research to positively impact the lives of those who live with them as I do. Along with doing research, I would like to design a program to be used in schools to better educate students and teachers on food allergies and what living with one is like. This led to my majoring in Chemistry-Business as it seemed like the perfect combination to achieve my goals.

After graduation I plan to attend graduate school and do research in the field of food allergies. Food allergies tend to be a less focused on area of research, even though they affect thousands of people, so I would love to contribute to that cause.

Through my experience so far at Notre Dame, I have enjoyed being active in my dorm, and I am now a Programmer of Services for the Student Union Board. 


Harisa Spahic (2018) Majoring in Biochemistry with a Minor in Anthropology

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During senior year of high school, I began thinking about what major I would choose in college. I knew which subjects I liked and which ones I did not like as much. It became a challenge for me when I came down to biology and chemistry. I enjoyed both so much but which one to pick? Biology appealed to me first and connected much more obviously to the medical field I plan to go into, while chemistry was more straightforward and incorporated math and physics to a greater extent. I considered double majoring (especially since some of the schools I was applying to did not have biochemistry), but ended up picking biochemistry here at Notre Dame. The major is a happy compromise, and I feel it is the right one for me.

In the future I hope to enter an MD/PhD program. I have wanted to be a doctor on and off through childhood, but the research interest has sparked in the past 2-3 years. By attaining an MD/PhD, I hope to have more flexibility in my future. Either way, I want to help people with my career and both fields provide an avenue to help.

Outside of the classroom, I have become involved in Social Justice in American Medicine (SJAM) Club and Habitat for Humanity. Through both SJAM and Habitat, I have been able to go out into the South Bend community and help those in need. With SJAM, I particularly enjoyed helping making flu kits for the homeless shelter as well as helping out around the local HIV/AIDS center. I was heavily involved with Habitat during high school and that did not change in college. My favorite experience with Habitat was our Fall Break Blitz build where we spent a full week working on a house. It is a great experience to see how a dozen college students with 3 Habitat workers are able to start with a hole in the ground and end with a house with a roof in one week.


Michael Mulligan (2019) Majoring in Chemistry with a Minor in Bioengineering

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I first became attracted to science while growing up around my mom's epigenetics lab at the University of Florida. I later decided to focus on chemistry because of my belief in its ability to change people's lives whether that is through antibiotics or creation of cost-efficient, biodegradable plastic. I am planning to pursue a doctorate after I have graduated, with the ultimate goal of a career in drug development, possibly focused on Alzheimer's disease. 

At Notre Dame, I have spent my time outside of the classroom doing research in a biosynthesis lab, working as a teaching assistant in a general chemistry class, participating in the Glynn Honors Program, and playing Interhall & CoRec sports. My research is currently focused on extracting antibiotics that are naturally synthesized by bacteria. 


 

Laura Housman (2017) Majoring in Chemistry and Arabic

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I love solving problems and challenging myself. I find chemistry fascinating – the way everything works together in intricate ways and the wealth of knowledge we have gained to explain phenomena in the world. Finding connections between knowledge learned in the classroom and events observed in the world is what inspires my passion for chemistry.

Initially, I wanted to pursue a career in forensic chemistry. My current career aspiration is to teach high school chemistry. I changed my career goals because of my positive experiences as a tutor. I am a leader for a group known as Peer Led Team Learning (PLTL). We tutor freshmen enrolled in the general chemistry course. Throughout the fall semester, I watched a group of students grow and succeed in this class. I enjoy working with youth and showing them how learning is fun. I will obtain my teaching certification after graduation and begin teaching while continuing my studies to obtain a Master’s degree. In addition, I plan to become fluent in Arabic so I can pursue teaching opportunities abroad as well as opportunities to teach Arabic in the states. To initiate my experiences abroad, I hope to study in the Middle East in the summer of 2016 – possibly at Notre Dame’s Summer Jerusalem Program at the Tantur Ecumenical Institute or at a language institute to improve my fluency in Arabic.

I am a member of the Dance Company at Notre Dame. Every semester, we perform student-choreographed dances at Washington Hall. A dance I choreographed in the spring semester of my freshman year was among those selected for the company’s showcase. I enjoy dancing with such an amazing group of talented people. In addition, I continue to run by participating in the Holy Half Marathon. The race requires immense effort and mental strength, but I enjoy the challenges and plan to participate again in the coming years.


Andrew Latham (2017) Majoring in Chemistry and Applied and Computational Mathematics and Statistics (ACMS)

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Ever since high school, I have enjoyed Chemistry and was considering Chemistry as a major when I entered Notre Dame. When I began taking Chemistry courses, I realized how much I enjoyed the challenge that Chemistry provides. Studying chemistry helped me develop logic and problem solving skills. My classes were not about memorizing a concept or formula, but rather to develop an understanding that allows me to apply the same concept to a variety of situations. I appreciate developing these skills that will prepare me for any career.

While I am keeping my options open, I am likely to pursue a PhD in Chemistry after graduation. My research has helped me realize this interest. I joined Professor Gezelter’s research group during my sophomore year. In my research I use molecular dynamics computer simulations to better understand how platinum surfaces reconstruct in the presence of carbon monoxide. I would like to continue to focus on computational chemistry as I move toward a PhD. This could lead me in several different directions, including going into industry to perform research, or a career in academia.

My freshman year, I rowed on the Men’s Club Crew Team. During my sophomore year, I switched to running, completed my first marathon and began to race with the Men’s Running Club. I am also a massive fan of my home sports teams, so I write for the Notre Dame Sports by Numbers Club


Tiffany Toni (2018) Majoring in Biochemistry with a Minor in Science, Technology, and Values

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I chose to major in biochemistry because biology and chemistry were my favorite classes in high school. Over the past year, though, I have grown to love the major for far more than the curriculum. Since it is a relatively small major, I am able to interact with my teachers more than most students. Additionally, while the material can be challenging, I have made some of my best friends learning it!

I plan to either pursue research or go into the medical field. The nice thing about being a biochemistry major is that I can keep my options open and explore both routes during my time at Notre Dame. 

When I am not in class, I spend my time as a STEM ambassador for Mcglinn Hall, the chemistry club vice president, volunteering at Memorial Hospital, and participating in the Sorin Scholars program. I also spend a lot of time working in the Ashfeld organic synthesis laboratory working on a rhodium-catalyzed cycloannulation reaction. The chemistry along with the grad students I work with makes this one of my favorite ways to spend my time,


Trever Carter (2019) Majoring in Biochemistry and Spanish

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After a decently unengaging high school experience in chemistry, I would never have thought that I would major in it. Instead, I planned to pursue the social sciences. So I came to Notre Dame as a psychology intent. After two psychology classes, I decided that I was not a gray learner. I needed things to be unambiguous; straight black and white. Two semesters of chemistry convinced me to change my major and seek out something that would engage me and challenge me ... and that's how I ended up in biochemistry. While making my decision to switch majors, other things that I considered were the size of the major, the research opportunities that it affords, and the endless doors to career paths that are left open. While I am not currently involved in undergraduate research, I hope to be soon. 

My future plans at this time involve medical school to be a pediatric oncologist. I'm also incredibly passionate about the Spanish language, and the biochemistry major allow me flexibility to major in that as well. Outside of the classroom, I participate in Student Government, serve as one of my dorm's service commissioners, and love all things related to the Center for Social Concerns. I'm thankful for the unique experiences that the Chemistry and Biochemistry community give to me!


Danielle Boley (2017) Majoring in Biochemistry with a Minor in Bioengineering

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I became interested in biochemistry during my junior year of high school. At that time, I was taking advanced chemistry and advanced biology, and I realized the two complemented each other. My interest grew when I attended a student researcher day at the USDA National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research and met a scientist who had studied biochemistry. I volunteered in his lab during the summer before my senior year and decided I wanted to pursue research as a career. I chose to be a biochemistry major at Notre Dame because there are many opportunities for undergraduate research. I wanted more research experience, so I could find a research focus that really interested me.

After graduation, I am planning on attending graduate school to pursue a Ph.D. in analytical chemistry with a focus in mass spectrometry. I have also done career treks to help shape my career path after graduate school, but I believe my first few years in graduate school will shape my career path more than my experience in undergrad. 

Research has been a great part of my time at Notre Dame. I joined Dr. Norman J. Dovichi's lab during the spring of my freshman year and started research during the summer after freshman year. My research involves studying metabolomics in mice and Xenopus laevis by using capillary electrophoresis-mass spectrometry and imaging mass spectrometry. I am also involved with a cancer project that received a Research Like a Champion Award, so I am very fortunate to work in such a great lab. With the help of the First Year of Studies, Balfour-Hesburgh Scholars Program, and Glynn Family Honors Program, I worked in Dr. Dovichi's lab during the summers after my first two years of undergrad. Being on campus over the summers was beneficial because I was able to give my entire focus to research and the experience increased my interest in analytical chemistry research as a career. Prior to this past summer, I was trying to decide between analytical chemistry and organic chemistry for graduate school, so I applied for summer experiences in organic chemistry. I was accepted into the Vanderbilt Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) in Chemical Biology and had the opportunity to do organic synthesis research under the supervision of Dr. Jeffrey N. Johnston. I am very grateful for this experience because I learned a new skill set and discovered that my favorite part of organic chemistry was the analysis of products by spectroscopy. 

Besides research, I am also involved with music ensembles at Notre Dame. I play piccolo in the marching band and hockey band, flute in University Band and flute choir, and trumpet for Salvation Army Bandlink. Salvation Army Bandlink is the most rewarding experience because we teach local children brass and percussion instruments. It is challenging to balance band, academics, and research, but music is great for relieving stress, so I cannot imagine giving it up.


Sara Tobin (2018) Majoring in Chemistry-Business with a Minor in Theology

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Science in general has always been appealing to me because of how it can explain the way the world around us works. What first drew me to Chemistry was the intricacies within the science.  It amazed me how the interactions of such small things, likes electrons, could cause such massive reactions.  Chemistry is extremely versatile; almost every product we use comes from some form of chemistry.  Notre Dame allowed me to combine my love for chemistry with my interest in business.

As of right now I am not planning on going on to graduate school.  I am looking to go into industry after graduation.  I would really like to work in research and development or product development.  I believe there is always room for improvement and getting a job that would allow me to help improve a product on the market to better serve those that use it would be ideal.

I am very active in my dorm’s intramurals.  I have played flag football and basketball and in coming years I hope to try more sports.  The intramural programs allow me to continue playing sports in a competitive setting while making friendships with the people I meet.  I am a member of Habitat for Humanity on campus.  This organization builds one home each semester for a deserving family near Notre Dame.  This club allows me to give back to the community and help give a family a nice house they can afford.  It also gives the opportunity to be hands on in the construction experience, teaching valuable skills.  Another club that I am a member of is Slice of Life.  This is a club that tutors kids from nearby grade schools.  It’s a very rewarding program to be a part of as it allows you share some of your knowledge with young kids.


Emily Scire (2017) Majoring in Biochemistry

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When the time comes to choose a major in college, it can be a little daunting, particularly if you have a lot of interests. Since I was little, I’ve wanted to be a medical doctor, as I’ve always been fascinated by the intricate workings of the human body. However, in school I enjoyed most of my classes, especially in math and science. As a biochemistry major at Notre Dame, I’ve been able to take courses in the majors' sequences for honors math, physics, biology, and chemistry. In addition, I've had the chance to participate in honors humanity seminars through the Glynn Family Honors Program. Overall, my curriculum has prepared me well for any scientific career I might desire, without requiring me to sacrifice any of my interests.

I also have the chem/biochem community to thank for opening my eyes to the world of research. After enjoying my labs freshman year, I decided to apply for an undergraduate position in a biomedical lab. I was fortunate enough to be accepted by the lab of Dr. R. Schwarz and Dr. N. Awasthi at the Indiana University School of Medicine in South Bend (about a 20 min. walk down pretty Notre Dame Ave.). After a year of experiments exploring the efficacy of novel chemotherapeutic agents against pancreatic cancer, I am looking forward to going back to the lab to complete my senior thesis. In addition, I am in the process of applying to MD programs which will allow me to make research an important facet of my professional life.

While research and classes are a big part of a lot of our lives, everyone has the opportunity to shape their own undergraduate experience. During my time at ND, I've had the joy of being in the Women’s Liturgical Choir, which sings at the Saturday night vigil mass in the Basilica; I’ve had the opportunity to work in the student government Department of Social Concerns, which organizes service projects on campus; I’ve spent my Fall break in West Virginia on a Center for Social Concerns Appalachia Service Immersion; and I’ve gotten to tutor first year students in chemistry at the Learning Resource Center (2nd floor of Coleman-Morse). In addition, I decided to apply to study abroad programs in the fall semester of my sophomore year, and was blessed to spend my junior year studying biochemistry at New College, Oxford. My year abroad was one of the most formative experiences of my life, and I am so grateful for the friends I made from all over the world, the experiences I had as part of the Oxford student culture, and the progress I was able to make through their tutorial system.

Ultimately, this track at Notre Dame can be challenging, but I will always be thankful for the opportunities ND and this department have given me.


Zane Colon (2019) Majoring in Biochemistry with a Minor in Science, Technology, and Values

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At this point, I am looking toward becoming a Pharmacist or doing pharmaceutical drug development and research. In the former case, pharmacy school is my next step after Notre Dame; in the latter, graduate school or medical school are possible paths. I decided to be a biochemistry major because I wanted the same great education that science pre-professional students receive but with a more standardized curriculum. That way I can have a degree that allows me to do more than just medical school/pre-professional school after graduation in case I change my career plans. I decided to minor in STV because it offers some pharmacy-related courses as well as the freedom to choose which classes I want to take.

I have been an active member of many band programs here at Notre Dame, such as the marching band, the hockey band, and Symphonic Winds. Due to the incredible time commitment the marching band requires, I haven't explored other groups that meet during the fall semester. However, during the spring semester, I participated in a research course called Introduction to Undergraduate Research. This course is for freshmen to help them get their feet wet in the research world. I am also a member of the Pre-Professional Society.