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Chemistry and Biochemistry Students Gain Relevant Work Experience

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Posted on Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Chem student in labAs a liberal arts college, Westminster is a place for students to grow both inside and outside of their majors. Being able to effectively communicate original ideas and findings is an essential skill—especially for students who tirelessly research in the laboratory. Therefore, the Chemistry Department hosts weekly seminars for junior and seniors to further develop their professional and oral communication skills.

During a chemistry seminar panel discussion this semester, six junior and senior biochemistry majors shared their summer research and internship experiences.  

“Hands-on opportunities in the summer are a great way for our students to continue to develop as professionals, to build their skill sets and to enhance their resumes,” chemistry professor Dr. Helen Boylan said. “We encourage our students to take advantage of the many research and internship positions that are available for science students.”

Because of this, Westminster College offers on-campus opportunities for students to gain relevant work.

The Drinko Center for Undergraduate Research at Westminster College provides students with a variety of research, scholarly and creative opportunities. Seniors Christina Robb and Tristan Toca worked as Drinko Center Summer Research Fellows this summer. Robb investigated a protein involved in Parkinson’s disease, and Toca studied UV damage to a protein in the eye linked to the formation of cataracts. 

Many students had the opportunity to work off campus at other esteemed institutions, as well.

Junior Sarah Harris participated in Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) at Duquesne University and researched protein complexes, and senior Madison Ordonez shadowed a pharmacist at Pleasant Hills Apothecary, a compounding pharmacy in Clairton, PA.

“Gaining experience outside of the classroom is a very important aspect, especially in the medical field,” Ordonez said. “Gaining experience outside of the classroom is critical to knowing the field you want to go into and is something that everyone should try to do before graduation!”

Senior Jarret Vrabel served as a student researcher at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Youngstown, Ohio, where he analyzed data and prepared manuscript for a non-clinical research study. Junior Nathaniel Cavlovic worked as a lab intern for the Citizen Science Lab at the Energy Innovation Center in Pittsburgh. There, he taught science-themed summer camps for elementary and middle school students.

Regardless of major, getting hands-on experience is essential for students to be able to move forward in their respective fields. Networking and internship opportunities are countless for Westminster students as employers select them over other candidates because of the relevant experience they gained in the classroom or lab.  

Written by Megan Simpson