Talk Nerdy To Me: Senior Science Major Panel
By Aphra Murray, MS&T Editor
On Wednesday, September 27, Biosphere and Sceptical Chymists co-sponsored a panel for senior science majors. The purpose of the panel was to give other students a chance to listen to the research experiences and overall college experience of soon to be graduates in the science department. The panel was composed of seniors Jenny Giannini, Julia Palmucci, Rich Gawel and Jenna DeCurzio. There was a good turnout and following presentation on their research, students were given the opportunity to ask any questions that they had.
Rich Gawel, a senior Biochemistry and Molecular Biology major, gave a presentation about his interdisciplinary research with Professor Lucas Thompson (Chemistry) and Professor Peter Fong (Biology). His work looked at the interaction of gold nanoparticles with aquatic organisms, such as small frogs and snails. Specifically it focuses on aquatic toxicology and some of the potential environmental implications of gold nanoparticles.
The question that was asked of the panel most frequently was “how does one get involved in research?”, that was answered by each of the panelists. Jenny Giannini, who now works with Professor Jennifer Powell in the Biology department, began her work in the lab setting by doing prep work for the lab. After showing interest and become actively involved for over a year, Giannini then began her work doing research in that lab. Jenna DeCurzio took a computational phage class in the spring of her freshman year. DeCurzio said that she enjoyed it so much that she approached the professor and asked about staying on and completing projects specifically in computational biology. Palmucci, on the other hand, did not know what her focus wanted to be in and so chose to do research projects in a number of different labs before applications to graduate school.
Another area topic of interest for the panel was discussions around what brought each of the students to the science department. Answers varied for each of the panelists, with Giannini saying that she had initial plans to go on to medical school and now looks to pursue immunology programs. Palmucci, on the other hand, entered Gettysburg College as a history major and is now looking to pursue a degree that spans organismal and cell biology through a focus on infectious disease.
Professors who also attended the panel gave advice to new science majors, saying that students should be proactive in going to organized departmental talks and asking questions in and out of the classroom. Furthermore, students were encouraged to talk to their professors about research opportunities as early as possible, as professor’s are more than happy to have students join a lab if genuine interest and enthusiasm are shown.