Meet Our Students

Nico Robalin (2020) Majoring in Chemistry and Theology

Nico Robalin Web

Outside of chemistry, I am also a theology major at Notre Dame. Coming from a public school, the theology requirement at Notre Dame was my first experience with the subject. I absolutely loved the course and signed up for a minor. As semesters passed, I eventually ended up adding the full major. While two drastically different subjects, I enjoy having both majors, as I am able to get the most out of the liberal arts education at Notre Dame. I am able to challenge myself in different ways through the lab and my theology courses. I am also involved with campus ministry, my dorm, and play the double bass in the orchestra. The opportunities the major has given me at Notre Dame have been incredible. The major is great not only for the experiences available, but also the small major helps promote a tight knit community not seen in larger majors.I heard horror stories about high school chemistry growing up. Then, I took the class and absolutely loved it. I fell in love with chemistry due to the way science and math blend together. Throughout my time majoring in chemistry at Notre Dame, I grew to love the deeper intricacies present in chemistry, especially organic chemistry. During sophomore year, I joined the Helquist lab to work in total synthesis. Being a chemistry major at Notre Dame has afforded me amazing opportunities. This past semester I took a leave of absence at Notre Dame while participating in an internship at Vertex Pharmaceuticals in Boston. This experience gave me great experience and preparation for graduate school. After undergrad, I hope to attend grad school specializing in total synthesis with a focus in chemical biology. My goal is to become a professor and run a research group in academia.


Michael Seraphin (2020) Majoring in Biochemistry and Theology (Supplementary)

Michael Seraphin Web

I initially entered Notre Dame as a biochemistry major for a pretty simple reason: I was not sure what I wanted to do with my life. I enjoyed both chemistry and biology in high school and was undecided between pursing medical school or a research path. Now, I feel that being a biochemistry major has prepared me for both medical school and life beyond Notre Dame. The coursework is challenging, but I have found that it has taught me resilience, how to work hard, and how to ask for help. Additionally, biochemistry has prepared me to work in a research setting, which is something I want to continue in medical school.

favorite activity while at Notre Dame has been the Men’s Rowing Team. I began rowing my freshman year and am currently the captain of the team. We travel across the country to compete in places as far as Boston and San Diego, racing against schools like Michigan, UCLA, and Virginia. Another experience I greatly enjoyed was studying abroad at Trinity College, Dublin. I was able to take classes which fulfilled biochemistry requirements, live in the center of Dublin, join Trinity’s rowing team, and explore Europe. I also perform research in the Keck Center for Transgene Research and volunteer with the South Bend Center for Hospice. I am also a theology major. I was initially surprised to know that there was room in my schedule to add a second major (albeit a supplemental one). I greatly enjoy the dichotomy of the two majors.I remember one finals week alternating between learning Orgo II reaction mechanisms and writing a paper about the existence of evil. Having one major in the sciences and one major in the humanities has allowed me to have a greater liberal arts education and again, to better prepare myself for medical school and life beyond Notre Dame.


Clare Cahir (2020) Majoring in Chemistry and Italian (Supplementary) with a Minor in Studio Art

Clare Cahir Web

Throughout school, I have always liked math and science classes, but I also found myself very interested in subjects that were typically not thought of as compatible with the sciences, such as art, music, and languages. For this reason, I was attracted to Notre Dame and its chemistry and biochemistry department because it is wonderful at allowing its students to pursue all of their passions and encouraging cross-discipline studies. Within my chemistry classes, I find that I am able to view the subject from the perspectives of my different interests, and with my electives, I choose to fill them with classes that are not science. Combining all of my passions, I will be graduating in 2020 with a major in Chemistry, a supplementary major in Italian, and a minor in Studio Art.

Some of my favorite experiences I’ve had at Notre Dame thus far, besides football season of course, include playing flag football for the Farley Hall intramural team, starting the Notre Dame Sewing Club my sophomore year, and studying the fall semester of my junior year in Rome, Italy. In addition, one of the most rewarding experiences I have had throughout undergraduate is being a part of Dr. Patricia Champion’s research lab on tuberculosis. My work doing research has ultimately guided my decision to pursue a PhD in graduate school after Notre Dame, where I hope to continue incorporating my passions into my job, my activities, and my daily life.


Sydney Louden (2021) Majoring in Chemistry and Environmental Sciences

Sydney Louden Web

I started my freshman year at Notre Dame as a chemistry major because I really enjoyed chemistry in high school. I was drawn to Notre Dame’s chemistry program because it offers many opportunities to explore the different fields within chemistry. The program has both depth and variety in the core classes and faculty research and has really allowed me to find what interests me. I quickly found that I was very passionate about ecology and environmental sciences in addition to chemistry. The chemistry major has offered me the flexibility to be a chemistry and environmental science double major. The flexibility in the program is also allowing me to spend a semester studying abroad in Perth, Australia. I will graduate in 2021, and I plan to attend graduate school. I want to pursue a career in research, specifically in the fields of marine chemistry and marine ecology.

Outside of my classes, I volunteer in the classrooms at the Early Childhood Development Center on campus. I am also conducting undergraduate research with the Jones aquatic ecology lab. I have been able to combine my chemistry and environmental science interests by researching the role that methane fluxes in lakes plays in the global carbon cycle. With the Jones lab, I have also been able to spend the summer at Notre Dame’s field research station in Land O'Lakes, Wisconsin.


Ashley Sullivan (2020) Majoring in Biochemistry with a Minor in Italian

Ashley Sullivan Web

I have always been interested in learning the underlying reasons for why and how things work, from inanimate objects to living beings. When I was applying to schools, I did some research and discovered that majoring in biochemistry was the perfect way to learn about how life functions, in both a biological and a chemical way, and it sounded like a perfect match for me. I chose to come to Notre Dame not only because of the family ties I have here, but also because I knew that ND would provide me with a high quality education and an abundance of opportunities in the field of biochemistry and the other interests that I had. I am not only able to major in Biochemistry, but I can also simultaneously pursue my interests in Italian language and culture through an Italian minor.

Outside of the classroom, I am heavily involved in band program here at Notre Dame. I am able to effectively balance schoolwork with many music ensembles throughout the year, including marching band, concert band, or percussion ensemble. Additionally, I spend my time doing research in the Melander Lab on campus. In the lab, I work on targeting antibiotic resistance mechanisms through synthesizing organic small molecules, which can be used as adjuvants with standard antibiotic treatments to treat multi-drug resistant bacterial infections. After graduation, I plan on either taking a gap year to do service or go directly to grad school to get a PhD, possibly in Biochemistry or Microbiology. I hope to then pursue a career in Public Health with the CDC or another health organization.


Alyssa Arbuiso (2022) Majoring in Biochemistry with a Minor in Musical Theatre

Alyssa Arbuiso Web

Like the typical Notre Dame student, I possess an interest in a diverse set of academic disciplines. This made it difficult for me to pick a major during my senior year of high school. I have always enjoyed science, both because I find it deeply satisfying to understand the principles which shape the world around me, and because scientific research allows me to creatively apply my knowledge to improve the health and lives of others. Yet, because the scientific realm is so rapidly expanding, progressing, and evolving, I was apprehensive that, as a biochemistry major, I would be forced to leave my other interests behind in order to succeed at science. Notre Dame’s biochemistry major is difficult, but at Notre Dame, an institution which promotes well-roundedness and balance, I feel deeply rewarded and challenged by the rigorous biochemistry courses while I continue learning to be a well-rounded person and scholar. Biochemistry allows me to study two subjects that fascinate me—chemistry and biology—and understand the ways in which these two fields are related. Additionally, the small size of the biochemistry major allows me to more personally know my professors, advisors and peers, and encourages the biochemistry students to collaborate and network rather than compete. After graduating from Notre Dame, I intend to become an MD who is involved with clinical trials or an MD/PhD. This would allow me to use my scientific knowledge to help others as both an innovator and implementer.

Many activities that I engage in at Notre Dame progress me toward my career goals. During my freshman year, I joined the Baker Lab at Harper Cancer Research Institute and began researching the structural features of peptide-MHC complexes which augment peptide-MHC complex immunogenicity. This knowledge can be applied to better develop cancer vaccines and engineered T-cell immunotherapies. My time in lab has been enriching, the lab staff are welcoming, helpful, and inspiring, and research has served as a wonderful complement to my classroom learning thus far. Additionally, I serve as the president of Aging with Grace, a club whose mission is to educate both the elderly and vulnerable youth about the aging process in a manner that allows them to age happily and gracefully. Aside from science, I am involved with La Casa de Amistad, an institution in South Bend which aims to help immigrants in South Bend transition happily into their lives in the United States. I also play piano for the Pasquerilla East Hall dorm mass and hope to further my involvement in music/musical theater throughout my future at Notre Dame.


Sara Rani Reddy (2021) Majoring in Chemistry with a Supplemental Major in French

Sara Rani Reddy Web

Outside of the classroom, I’ve enjoyed being an editor for the Journal of Undergraduate Research and the Glynn Journal Arcadian Dialogues, where I am both a Science and Humanities editor. The Chem and Biochem Club and the South Asian Student Association have helped me make great connections to my classmates. I am also a part of the Glynn Family Honors Program and the Stamps Scholars Program on campus. On the research front, there are so many opportunities on campus to choose from. I used my interest in writing and editing to do research in the Humanities as an editorial and research assistant for Professor Eileen Hunt Botting. I helped Professor Botting conduct research on Human Rights, Genetic Engineering, and Artificial Intelligence (Fall 2018) as well as edited chapters of her new book: The Wollstonecraftian Mind, ed. Sandrine Berges, Eileen Hunt Botting, and Alan Coffee (forthcoming, Routledge, 2019). Another of the many wonderful things about the chemistry major at Notre Dame is that the curriculum is quite open for students to take all of the required classes for any graduate degrees they wish to pursue. In the future, I hope to explore the field of medicine, combining clinical experience and bench-to-bedside research in order to improve patient treatment options.Once I took my first chemistry course as a sophomore in high school, I was hooked. I knew that I had found the field of study for me. My high school chemistry teacher would perform the most fascinating demos. I filmed them on my phone to share with my friends and family, and as they watched, I gave a play-by-play explanation of the chemical significance of each reaction. My excitement grew with each wondrous chemical process I viewed and made me more curious about the vast field of chemistry as it applies to almost every aspect of daily life. My favorite demo was in our entropy unit: mixing two solids, ammonium thiocyanate and barium hydroxide, to produce a liquid (technically, a solution of barium thiocyanate in the water that is produced during the reaction). This reaction is an example of a spontaneous endothermic reaction driven by entropy, and as I learned more about this process, I could see the subject of chemistry jump off the pages of my textbook. My passion for chemistry is driven by the fact that it can explain the most amazing phenomena that defy regular logic, like mixing two solids to get a liquid and that it can be used to solve the most mind-boggling of problems that exist in our world today. I love the chemistry program at Notre Dame because it is both challenging and engaging, but flexible enough to allow for a second major. I’ve studied French since middle school and love learning more about the French language and culture. So I worked with my wonderful advisors in the chemistry and biochemistry department and the Department of Romance Languages to design a curriculum that is unique to me and that accommodates both of my interests.


Clarissa Younkle (2021) Majoring in Biochemistry and Anthropology

Clarissa Younkle Web

As many do, I choose biochemistry as my major because of my love for both biology and chemistry, but I stayed a biochemistry major because of the curriculum, faculty, and community of the major. I am not sure yet what I want to do in the future with my major, but there are many options to consider. I am currently looking at either attending law school, or graduate school for biochemistry or anthropology. At Notre Dame I am involved in several things on campus. I currently do research in the biochemistry lab of Dr. Bradley Smith where I do organic synthesis, as well as the Health, Hormone, and Human Behavior lab of Dr. Lee Gettler in the anthropology department. Additionally, I have worked as a camp counselor at the Notre Dame DNA Learning Center, I have participated in the Urban Plunge program with the Center of Social Concerns, and I am very involved in my hall community through inter-hall sports and hall government.A main goal of mine upon entering college was to gain an international experience, which was made possible by my biochemistry major. I spent this past summer researching organic synthesis in a lab at the University of Heidelberg, and in the fall I will be studying abroad at the National University of Singapore. My biochemistry major has not only allowed for the flexibility to go abroad, but has also given me many opportunities I would not otherwise have.


Nick Milikich (Jan 2020) Majoring in Biochemistry with a Supplementary ACMS Major

Nick Milikich Web

I've been interested in science since I was in high school, but it took me a while to narrow down what specifically I might want to study. I decided on biochemistry after really enjoying my experience in AP Chemistry and AP Biology, and I was able to add an ACMS major due to the flexibility afforded by the biochemistry major. I will be completing this combination of programs in just 3½ years. I also chose this combination of majors because of the broad knowledge base it would give me and the wide variety of doors it would leave open for my future. Currently, I am planning on spending the two semesters after graduation getting my MS in ACMS from Notre Dame, and hope to use my life sciences background to apply this to a role in the healthcare or pharmaceutical industry. At different points in my undergraduate education, I also considered attending medical school or attending graduate school with the hope of eventually working in research and development in the pharmaceutical or biotechnology industry. I knew the biochemistry major would prepare me well for any of these options. This combination of majors also opened the door to some unique and enriching research experiences. On campus, I have been involved in research in the Gezelter lab, focusing on computational modeling of antifreeze proteins, and this experience led me to a summer research fellowship at the University of Texas at Austin focusing on computational modeling of biological membranes. Outside of academics, I spend my time working as an organic chemistry tutor or competing for the Notre Dame swim team, through which I have had the opportunity to volunteer around the South Bend community, including mentoring students at a local elementary school or working on construction of a house for Habitat for Humanity.


Hannah Collins (2022) Majoring in Chemistry with Minors in Studio Art and Energy Studies

Hannah Collins Web

I am passionate about chemistry because of the aspects of creativity and ingenuity involved. Using experiments and a scientific mindset to learn new things about our world is a very special thing to be able to do. I also appreciate the deeper understanding of the world around me gained from studying chemistry, especially in conjunction with studying visual art. Down the road, I hope to combine my interests in art and science. I plan to go into chemistry research related to renewable energy, most likely solar. I look forward to the extremely pertinent and real-world applications of renewable energy and the possibilities this field has for economic development. I am planning to study abroad in a country where renewable energy is an important field and look forward to exploring international career options. However, I don't feel limited to research; I hope to have multiple careers and spend time in academia and as an artist.

Aside from academics at Notre Dame, I am also a part of the Transpose Dance Collective, which puts on two productions a year in unconventional venues. I am employed on campus in the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center as a stagehand and in the scenery shop. I have also been involved in Community Based Learning and projects through the Center for Social Concerns with my Spanish class last semester, in which my classmates and I volunteered in the immigrant community of South Bend. I also absolutely love football games!