Meet Our Students


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


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.

Emma Tackman (2018) Majoring in Chemistry and Music Theory/History

Emma Tackman

Growing up in rural Wisconsin afforded me the luxury of taking the purity of the natural world for granted. Upon moving away, I soon came to realize that working to protect the environment and advocate for those who do not have a voice in decisions concerning their surroundings is both satisfying and necessary. It felt like a very natural fit, then, for me to approach these vast problems through the methodical scope of chemistry at Notre Dame. I conducted research in the Camden lab developing Surface Enhanced Raman Scattering (SERS) spectroscopic techniques to detect low quality and counterfeit antimalarial pharmaceuticals in commercially available tablets, and I expect to publish on this research very soon.

Outside of chemistry, I am heavily involved in music on campus through my second major and various ensembles. In my free time, I have enjoyed a rewarding four years in the marching band, concert band, and symphony orchestra playing and learning a variety of instruments. I have also had the opportunity to travel, both for a summer abroad in London and with the marching band to away football games. Additionally, I founded a club on campus devoted to puppies that now boasts nearly a thousand members.

In the future, I plan to continue my endeavors in research at Penn State University where I will pursue a Ph.D. in analytical chemistry with a special focus on environmental topics. 

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

Michael Mulligan Crop

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. 


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


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


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!


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


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.


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

Colon Pic

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.