Research Spotlight: Olivia Peduzzi
By Olivia Peduzzi, Contributing Writer
As a first-year science student at Gettysburg College, I frequently heard upperclassmen talking about their research labs and working with professors. I had always dreamed of working in a lab ever since I decided to study science in 8th grade and so I continued to hope that one day I could be like those upperclassmen and do research as well.
Well that one day came much sooner than anticipated.
I knew that Gettysburg had a program called X-SIG that allowed students to do research over the summer, but that usually only meant sophomores and older ended up getting this opportunity. However, I found out that my chemistry professor at the time, Kate Buettner, wanted to have younger students working in her lab.
Professor Buettner told me that when she was a first-year undergraduate, she had the chance to work in a lab and do research for the remainder of her college experience. She believed that being given an opportunity early gave her the necessary experience and confidence to successfully progress through her chemistry career; she wanted to give this same opportunity to her students.
She then proceeded to tell me that she thought I would be a good fit in her lab. I learned that her lab would focus on bioinorganic chemistry, the study of how metals interact in biology. I was intrigued by the idea of a discipline that spanned inorganic and organic systems and would allow me to have a broad knowledge base. We would work with the metals titanium and vanadium and try to get them to bind to specially designed proteins. The applications of this research went from potential anti-cancer therapeutics to organic catalysis, and I was really excited by the idea that I could be doing this.
I accepted the opportunity to begin research in Professor Buettner’s lab this past summer along with my friend Alex Paredes. We learned so much, not just about our specific bioinorganic studies, but also about basic lab techniques, high-tech equipment, and how to think like a researcher. This may be shocking, but, not every experiment works perfectly the first time you try it, and that’s OK! Working in the lab this summer gave me so much more perseverance and patience than I previously had, and I think that those skills are just as important as knowing how to properly execute experiments.
I am very excited by the prospects of my research and can’t wait to continue working with Alex and Professor Buettner. I am also extremely grateful for the awesome opportunities that I have been given that I know will make my scientific career at Gettysburg more fun than I could have ever hoped for.