Victoria Treadaway – Master’s Candidate in Chemical Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island

Victoria was a chemistry major at Linfield (Class of 2010).  At Linfield, she was involved in research with me, where she really got us going on making Au-Ag alloy nanoparticles.  At the time, it was a difficult thing to do, and she was only the second student I’d worked with who could do it.  Thanks to what she did, we have gotten much better at this sort of work.  You’ll see that she is working in a very different area of chemistry than the work she did as an undergraduate.  I see this frequently, and highly approve of it.  And now she’s starting to think about going for a Ph.D.!

1. How many schools did you apply to, and what was/were the important factors in making your final decision?

I applied to four schools (two out west and two out east). Honestly, a very important part of my decision was funding. I wanted/need a program where I wouldn’t have to worry about “soft money” (basically the rug could get pulled out from under you when you least expect it). I also connected very well with my advisor when I met him. After taking some time to work after graduating from Linfield I had a better idea of the type of environment I knew I needed to succeed.

2. What attracted you to the sub discipline and research area that you are studying?

While I love chemistry, by the end of my time at Linfield I knew I didn’t want to pursue a “pure” chemistry sub discipline. I wanted to be able to apply chemistry on a larger scale and after reading a variety of articles I felt environmental science, specifically oceanography, was right for me. Monterey, CA has been my favorite city in the world for a long time. I love the aquarium and the work done by MBARI (Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute). The time I took after Linfield allowed me to sort out what was important to me personally and professionally.

My research area is atmospheric chemistry (a “sub discipline” of oceanography at my school). As much as I enjoy oceanography, I have also grown to appreciate atmospheric chemistry, which surprised me. Working in these fields is certainly an adjustment. I need to consider the world as a whole leading to lots of puzzle pieces so it is fun and frustrating (no more beaker chemistry!).

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Katie Corp – Senior Chemistry and Mathematics Major

Katie will graduate this year.  I’m both very happy for her, and personally very sad.  This is how I feel about every single student we get.  Our time to work with them is so very short, and the growth we see in them is so tremendous.  I still remember Katie following up on my usual first week email and coming to talk with me about starting research.  She was a little excited when I told her we would start right away.  I don’t think I’ll ever forget that.

She worked with me for two summers.  One summer spent trying to obtain surface-enhanced Raman spectra (SERS) of a protein, and a second summer making nanoparticle surfaces and doing photochemistry.  This summer she landed an NSF-REU in France.  I think she liked it a little bit. At some point, I’ll ask her to write up something about how she did it.  Until then, read about why she came to Linfield.

Oh, and one of my favorite quotes, ever.  Last fall, on the first day of p-chem: “The math is back in chemistry!”

1.  How many schools did you apply to, and what was/were the important factors in making your final decision?

I applied to 15 schools. My main reason for applying to these schools was the fact that they weren’t in Idaho. I lived in Boise my whole life and wanted to experience something new. Another big factor was the size. I applied to a range of sizes, however most were smaller. I really like the one-on-one time with professors and didn’t want to be lost in a 200 person class. When it came down to actually choosing which college/university I wanted to attend, the visits made a huge difference. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to visit almost every school for which I applied. Many visits were great, but a few made me realize I didn’t want to be a certain schools. By April of my senior year in high school I was ready to know where I was going. My list was down to about 7 schools, which was too many to just flip a coin for a decision. Gut feeling (and a good financial aid package) made Linfield the final choice!  Continue reading

Janine Lee – Pharmacy School

Janine (Linfield, class of 2009) was a chemistry major, and has some good advice and insights for students interested in becoming pharmacists.  I was glad to see that Instrumental Methods (CHEM 340 at Linfield) has been helpful to her.  So, pre-pharm students out there, even though it isn’t required for admission to pharmacy programs, it might be a good course to take!

1. Where are you going for pharmacy school?

I go to Oregon State University and Oregon Health & Science University College of Pharmacy.

2. How many schools did you apply to?

OSU/OHSU COP was always my first choice, but unfortunately they did not accept one of Linfield’s classes required for a prerequisite, so initially I applied to one other school that accepted all of my prereqs. I was wait-listed and did not get in that year, so I went down to OIT (Oregon Institute of Technology in Klamath Falls) to re-do the prerequisite. After that, I applied to three pharmacy schools and was accepted into all programs, including the one I was previously wait-listed at.

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Catherine Nicholas – M.D.

Catherine was not ever a chemistry major.  I’m fairly certain that is the only thing that is wrong with her.  Catherine was a music major at Linfield (class of 2005), and played viola (which shows she knew how to pick her instruments).  She managed to spend a semester abroad in Nottingham, which turned out to be fairly important to her for many reasons.  I think she was about two courses shy of being able to be a chemistry major, and she did research with me for two summers.  Again, evidence of excellent taste.  She tells me that she is happy to correspond with Linfield students who want to apply to medical school.  If you want to get in touch with her, send me an email from your Linfield email account and I’ll pass it on to Catherine.

1.  Where did you go for medical school? 

I went to Oregon Health and Science University, in Portland, Oregon.

2.  How many medical schools did you apply to?

I applied to around 10 schools, and actually only was offered an interview at OHSU. I was initially placed on the med school waiting list, and was fortunate to get in when a spot opened up.

3.  How did the courses you take at Linfield prepare you for the MCAT and your first year in medical school?

All the courses at Linfield were excellent preparation. The basic science education at Linfield was more than enough preparation for the MCAT, on which I did very well. But interestingly, once I got to med school itself, it was the critical thinking skills more than any specific facts that were an incredibly useful tool that I truly feel set me apart from a lot of my extremely intelligent and qualified classmates. I learned how to think logically, evaluate a problem, and express myself clearly. The value of my general education in this way cannot be underestimated.

I also talked about our laser research and explained why the sky is blue in my interview. It was a slam-dunk moment.

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Andrew Carpenter – recent grad, soon to be graduate student

Andrew graduated from Linfield with a B.S. in chemistry and mathematics in 2012. He will be starting graduate school at the University of Oregon this fall.

1.  How many schools did you apply to, and what was/were the important factors in making your final decision?

I applied to five different schools, all in the Pacific Northwest.  My eventual goal at the time was to study a science and enter medical school after my undergraduate studies. The key factors that were important to me were the strength of the various science programs, how the students did after college, the running program at the college, the campus life, the physical appearance of the campus (layout, dorms locations, etc.), as well as the feel of the school (something you can’t really quantitate).

2.  Did you know you wanted to be a chemistry major when you started your undergraduate degree?  If you did, what attracted you to chemistry?  If you didn’t, how did you end up majoring in chemistry?

Entering Linfield, I almost immediately declared biology as my major. It seemed to be the best choice considering my interest in medical school. Ironically enough there weren’t any biology courses in my freshman schedule, I chose to take chemistry instead. The chemistry professors seemed to genuinely care for their area of study and the students who took interest in their classes. This was enough for me to take a little bit of a deeper look at chemistry as a major. After a semester of organic chemistry I was hooked. The courses themselves were intriguing; along with how everything we were learning seemed to be connected. It was in the answers, and absence of answers, to why reactions occurred, periodic trends were seen, the growing complexity and how math was so useful that really drew me towards chemistry. Continue reading

Verina Kranak – Ph.D. Candidate at Stockholm University

Verina was a chemistry major at Linfield (class of ’06).  I’ll never forget her because she was one of the students in gen chem during my first year at Linfield.  She also came to visit me and my family when we were in Tucson during my sabbatical at the University of Arizona, when she was in graduate school at Arizona State in Tempe.  Verina gives some excellent advice below, and I’m fairly certain she would endorse the idea of following your passions where they take you.

1.  How many schools did you apply to, and what was/were the important factors in making your final decision?
I wanted to be close to my family so I applied to the two major universities in Arizona, University of Arizona and Arizona State University. I was living in Phoenix, close to ASU, while completing my applications and sent off my resume to a specific Assistant Professor, whose research I was very interested in at ASU. I spent the summer working in his lab and was accepted into his group and the consequently the graduate program at ASU.

2. What attracted you to the sub discipline and research area that you are studying?
My two favorite science courses at Linfield were Thermodynamics and Circuits. So it wasn’t a far stretch to realize I was interested in the dynamics of solid materials. I was attracted to the Professor I came to work for because of his work in thermoelectric materials. Unfortunately for me he didn’t have new openings in that side of his group. Instead I joined his metal hydride group. The bulk of my research is in synthesis and crystallography.

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Kevin Romero – Junior Chemistry & Mathematics Major

Kevin is a Linfield (class of 2015) chemistry and mathematics double major.  He spent the summer after his freshman year doing theoretical chemistry research in the department with Jim Diamond, and the last summer at Northwestern University in an NSF REU program.

1.  How many schools did you apply to, and what was/were the important factors in making your final decision?

I applied to eight schools my senior year. At first I honestly had no idea what I was looking for in an institution. I applied to schools that are at the top of plenty of prestigious lists, and I applied to schools many people across the country wouldn’t recognize. It took visiting a few of these schools for me to realize what I valued most. After each visit my mom would ask if I could see myself going there. For each school I said yes, partially because I thought I could, but also because I didn’t want the visit to seem like a waste of time. I didn’t realize until I was leaving my visit at Linfield that prior to then I had no idea what I wanted in a school. My visit at Linfield showed me that my determining factor for where I would attend was finding a place I could truly call home. I know that’s very abstract and hard to quantify, and it wasn’t until later that I figured out the qualities about Linfield that make it feel so right. The biggest things that come to mind now are the numerous opportunities to pursue your passions both in and out of your major, the outstanding faculty who care about you as a complete individual, and the overall close-knit atmosphere. These are all huge factors in making Linfield the place I am happy to call home.

2.  Did you know you wanted to be a chemistry major when you started your undergraduate degree?  If you did, what attracted you to chemistry?  If you didn’t, how did you end up majoring in chemistry?

I knew I wanted to be a Chemistry major when I started my degree, however I saw Chemistry as a means to getting into medical school because it was something I was good at in the classroom. It wasn’t until I started doing research that I started to seriously consider Chemistry as a career path. There are so many directions one can take with a Chemistry degree – endless possibilities that are very exciting. Research presented itself as a new kind of challenge, one that can’t be created in the classroom. After doing research for just a short amount of time, I believe I better understand what science is all about. It’s not about finding the right answer, instead it’s about asking the right question and seeing where than may lead. I plan to stay in Chemistry and pursue a PhD in order to have the intellectual freedom to ask, and pursue, such questions.  Continue reading