Omolara Akingba, class of 2018

Major(s) and minor (s): Chemistry-biochemistry and economics double major

Hometown: Mahikeng, South Africa

After I graduate, I want to work for a couple of years and then get a PhD in something related to immunology and/or public health.

Research: I work with Prof. Russell Johnson in the biology department where we study the phosphorylation of transcription factor TaABF1 in the presence of hormones ABA and GA. The summer of 2016, I worked at the Cape Town HVTN Immunology Laboratory where I used immunology assays such as the Tb Spot test, the Intracellular Cytokine Staining Assay and ELISAs to assess immune responses to HIV and TB vaccines.

Apart from chemistry and economics, I enjoy dancing, not being homeless, contemplating the future, doing absolutely nothing for extended periods of time and wishing my GPA was higher. I’m going to rule the world one day! Watch me do it!

 

Amanda Loya, class of 2018

Major(s) and minor (s): Chemistry-biochemistry major and mathematics minor

Hometown: Bethel, Connecticut

After I graduate, I plan to spend a few years doing clinical research before pursuing an MD.

Research: Since the spring of 2015, I have been working with Prof. Kevin Rice in the chemistry department, studying the transcriptional effect of an experimental anticancer drug using HL60 cells. I also continued this work at the National Human Genome Research Institute at the NIH the summer of 2016.

In addition to being a chemistry major, I am a chemistry lab TA, stats TA, and member of the women’s basketball team. I have a passion for basketball, running, and all things exercise-related.

 

Danielle Smith, class of 2018

Major(s) and minor (s): Chemistry-biochemistry major

Hometown: Salem, New Hampshire

After I graduate, I want to pursue a PhD in developmental biology.

Research: From January to August 2016, I worked with Prof. Nick Boekelheide in the chemistry department, where I studied the biochemistry of carbon dioxide fixation reaction in the Calvin Cycle enzyme RuBisCO by performing electronic configuration and rate constant calculations on an optimized active site-like system. Since January 2017, I work with Prof. Dave Angelini in the biology department, where I use developmental and molecular genetic approaches to study the mechanism of environmental sensitivity in wing polyphenism in population of soapberry bugs. Additionally, I am characterizing the germline gene expression to provide a molecular/cellular explanation for the reduced fitness observed in short-winged male bugs.

I was also a Summer Student Program/INBRE Fellow at the Jackson Laboratory the summer of 2017. My research explored whether murine spermatogonial stem cell self-renewal is asymmetrical using immunohistochemical and lineage-tracing approaches.

 

 

Erika Smith, class of 2018

Major(s) and minor (s): Chemistry-biochemistry major

Hometown: Salem, New Hampshire

After I graduate, I want to obtain a PhD in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences.

Research: From January to August 2016, I worked with Prof. Nick Boekelheide in the chemistry department. I used molecular dynamic simulations to investigate active site interactions in the plant enzyme RubisCO, which is important in the first step of the Calvin cycle. With the Boekelheide lab, I also worked at the MIT Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences department in the summer of 2016.

Since January 2017, I work with Prof. Ron Peck in the biology department, using synthetic biology to manipulate carotenoid synthesis pathways in halophilic archaea.

 

 

Noura Srour, class of 2018

Major(s) and minor (s): Chemistry-biochemistry major, with a dual biochemical engineering degree from Dartmouth College.

Hometown: Dakar, Senegal

After I graduate, I want to do something in the field of biochemical engineering.

Research: I work with Prof. Das Thamattoor in organic chemistry, where I study cycloalkynes obtained from carbene rearrangement mechanisms.

The summer of 2017, I worked in a medical lab (BIO 24: Laboratoire de Biologie Medicale) in Dakar, where I learnt different experimental and automated medical analysis techniques to test for diseases like chlamydia and syphilis.

My other passion in life is dancing, and I enjoy using my free time to choreograph for Vuvuzela, Colby’s African dance group.

 

Grace Uwase, class of 2018

Major(s) and minor (s): Chemistry-molecular biology and biochemistry (CMBB)

Hometown: Boise, Idaho

After I graduate from Colby, I want to pursue an MD-PhD degree in biochemistry and infectious diseases.

Research: I work with Prof. Russell Johnson in the biology department, where I use biochemistry tools to analyze phosphorylation patterns of transcription factor TaABF1 and learn how the modification affect TaABF1 activity. The summer of 2016, I was part of the Gateways to Laboratory program at Weill Cornell Medical College. I worked with Dr. Jessica Tyler’s lab to study how mutations in histone acetyltransferase Rtt109 affect its function, to determine if yeast can be used to model the effect of mutations found in Bcell lymphoma. The summer of 2017, I worked with Dr. Jennifer Philips at Washington University Medical School in St. Louis to study how proteins secreted by Mycobacterium tuberculosis interact with host proteins and affect phagocytosis in tuberculosis infections.

Apart from my allegiance to science, I am part of Vuvuzela dance group and Colby African Society, and my hobbies include reading and spending time with children. Someday I hope to have a lab with glass walls so that I can interact with the outside world without actually being there.

 

 

Yuewei Wen, class of 2018

Major(s) and minor (s): Chemistry and physics double major

Hometown: Beijing, China

After I graduate from Colby, I want to get a PhD in physics

Research: In the chemistry department, I work with Prof. Das Thamattoor to explore carbene chemistry. My project is to generate really strained heterocyclic alkynes through carbene rearrangement. I also do research in the physics department with Prof. Robert Bluhm in theoretical physics, where we investigate Lorentz violation in massive gravity theories and possible signatures in matter interactions..

Apart from chemistry and physics, I am a fervent bibliophile and musical fan. That is, a large portion of my life has been “wasted” on musicals, fantasies, science fictions, and 19th century French literature.

 

Chris Collmus, class of 2019

Major(s) and minor (s): Chemistry-biochemistry and music minor

Hometown: Falmouth, Maine

After I graduate Colby I want to work in research and development or pursue higher education in chemistry.

Research: Since the summer of 2017, I worked with Prof. Das Thamattoor in organic chemistry, where I studied phenanthrene based precursors for carbene chemistry.

In addition to chemistry, I’m rather enthusiastic about theatre, and music. At Colby, I do theater with Powder & Wig, I’m an accapella singer in Colby 8, and I’m also involved with Broadway Musical Review.

Ernesto Esquivel-Amores, class of 2019

Major(s) and minor (s): Chemistry-biochemistry

Hometown: Jefferson City, Missouri

When I graduate from Colby, I want to find a job that mixes my chemistry knowledge with international trade, OR, create one that mixes chemistry and working internationally.

Research: I work with Das Thamattoor in organic chemistry, currently working on the synthesis of a crystal that forms when a dibromo compound, THF, and butyl lithium are mixed together.

I enjoy long walks on the beach, candlelit dinners, futbol,Italian culture, guitar, and stand-up comedy. In addition to my dedication to chemistry, I also love to travel off into the unknown and go on adventures!

 

Joe Forzano, class of 2019

Major(s) and minor (s): Chemistry-biochemistry and Mathematical Sciences double major

Hometown: Ludlow, Massachusetts

After Colby, I plan to attend graduate school and earn a Ph.D in organic/medicinal chemistry and ultimately hope to become an organic chemistry professor.

Research: I have worked in Prof. Jeffrey Katz’s organic synthesis lab for just over two years now. I synthesize novel macrocycles called oxacalixarenes (and have also synthesized a polymer). These molecules have never been synthesized before, so we spend a significant amount of time attempting to isolate/purify them. I also explore the capabilities of these compounds as colorimetric sensors for fluoride ions in solution through pi-anion interactions.

Apart from chemistry and math, I enjoy volleyball, running, reading, volunteering, cooking, and board Games. At Colby, I am a co-captain of the Club Volleyball team, a TA for an organic chemistry lab, a volunteer SAT Coach, a chemistry tutor, a co-leader of the Maine General Health volunteering program, and the guy who gets to pull the emergency showers in every lab once a month.

Sam Hoenig, class of 2019

Major(s) and minor(s): Chemistry-molecular biology and biochemistry (CMBB)

Hometown: Lincoln Massachusetts

After Colby, I plan spending two years either researching or teaching adaptive sports in the rocky mountains. during this time, I plan on applying to medical school.

Research: This past summer (2017), I worked at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT where I practiced Medicinal chemistry. Here, I synthesized a collection of small molecules of the same scaffold with the hope that one homolog would act as an uncompetitive inhibitor for a protein overexpressed in several cancers. At Colby, I recently started working in Professor Katz’s lab where we are working on a new synthetic route for the production of Helicenes and Phenacenes.

I love chemistry because I like to know how everything works and to find creative applications to complex problems. Aside from Chemistry, I am a member of the tennis team, a CCAK mentor, a COOT leader, and a member of the pottery club. I love adventures, all forms of exercise, and outdoor activities especially biking, skiing, and blueberry picking.

Thu Le, class of 2019  

Major(s) and minor (s): Chemistry-biochemistry and Science, Technology and Society double major

Hometown: Nha Trang City, Vietnam

After Colby, I will most likely go to graduate school, but I may spend some time working in a research lab

Research: I’m in the Thamattoor lab in the chemistry department since January 2017. My focus is on synthesizing precursors that can generate novel carbenes (highly reactive intermediates characterized by divalent carbons). I’m currently looking at a carbene containing a boron atom, and another carbene that can hopefully rearrange into a oxygen-containing cyclopentyne, both of which have never been made before. In addition, I use computational methods to predict their properties.

Aside from Chemistry, I love reading, arts and crafts, cooking, singing in lab…(not all of them in the lab – just the last one). I have a passion for studying foreign languages and learning about different cultures (Vietnamese, American, Spanish, Chemist…yes – we have our own culture too!)

Gabriel Kline, class of 2019

Major(s) and minor (s): Chemistry-biochemistry and Psychology double major

Hometown: Acton, Massachusetts

After Colby, I want to pursue an MD/PhD degree.

Research: I have worked with Prof. Julie Millard for one year in biochemistry, analyzing phenotypic differences in caffeine metabolism using high performance liquid chromatography. The summer of 2016, I worked at MIT where I synthesized and characterized an extracellular hybrid fluorescent sensor for the detection of mobile zinc. The summer of 2017, I worked at the National Cancer Institute, studying synthesis and reaction optimization for a novel bioconjugatable heptamethine cyanine for tumor imaging with the human monoclonal antibody panitumimab.

In addition to academics, I run cross country and track and play cello. I also enjoy long walks on the beach, writing poetry about nature, and having deep talks by candlelight. I love being outside.

Claire Mepyans, class of 2019

Major(s) and minor (s): Chemistry-molecular biology and biochemistry (CMBB)

Hometown: Fairfield, Connecticut

After Colby, I hope to do research for a few years and then go to medical school!

Research: I’ve worked with Prof. Jeff Katz in the chemistry department since summer 2016. The main focus of our work is synthesizing novel oxygen bridged molecules known as Oxacalixarenes. The Summer of 2017, I worked at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in NYC participating in bladder cancer research in Dr. David Solit’s lab. His lab was part of the Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program, with a specific focus on signaling pathways. Next summer I’ll be back to continue my work looking at KDM6A knockouts in bladder cancer!

At Colby I love seeing my CCAK mentee every week, feeding and washing tanks for the Biology department’s zebrafish lab, TAing an Organic Chemistry lab, and having a blast in knitting club! I also enjoy hiking and canoeing.

 

 

Tenzin Passang, class of 2019  

Major(s) and minor (s): Chemistry-biochemistry

Hometown: Dehradun, India

After Colby, I hope to pursue medicine or research in biochemistry  

Research: The summer of 2017, I worked with Prof. Julie Millard in biochemistry. We are interested in understanding the metabolism of caffeine and factors contributing to the differences in metabolism.

Apart from chemistry, I love playing with water but sadly I don’t know how to swim. Would love to learn it someday!

 

Jordyn Smith, class of 2019   

Major(s) and minor(s): Chemistry-biochemistry major and education minor

Hometown: Toronto, Canada

I’m not totally sure what I want to do after Colby, but I’m hoping to combine my passions for chemistry, research, and education!

Research: I work for Prof. Kevin Rice in the Chem department. We are aiming to evolve a protein with high affinity for DNA nicks using a phage display selection. During the summer of 2017, I worked in the Forman-Kay Lab at Sickkids Hospital in Toronto. We were looking at a segment of the Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Regulator (CFTR) called the Regulatory Insertion.

I love Chemistry because it pushes you to be creative and make connections, both between concepts and with the amazing people in your classes! Apart from chemistry, I am involved with CCAK, Colby Dancers, play guitar and am a member of the global health collaborative.

 

Alice Wang, class of 2019

Major(s) and minor(s): Chemistry-biochemistry and mathematics double major

Hometown: Beijing, China

I wish to go to medical school or graduate school after Colby.

Research: I have been working in Prof. Kevin Rice’s research lab since the summer of 2016. I am developing a chemical genetic screen to identify compounds synergistic with laromustine in treating acute myeloid leukemia cells. The summer of 2017, I worked in Prof. Don Coen’s lab in Harvard Medical School where I cloned and purified a protein for the development of an antivirus drug.

In addition to chemistry, I am a volunteer in Inland Hospital, and I am the TA for Honors Calculus in the math department. On Friday nights, I enjoy playing Werewolf with my friends. Also, I love skiing, and my hometown Beijing is going to hold the 2022 winter Olympics. I am so excited!

 

Yun Zhang, class of 2019

Major(s) and minor (s): Chemistry-biochemistry major and history double major.

Hometown: Beijing, China

After Colby, I’m thinking about going to law school and hopefully will be working in Intellectual Property or health law fields.

Research: I’ve been working with Prof. Julie Millard since the spring of 2017. I am working on a caffeine receptors project, investigating the effect of caffeine consumption on lactate thresholds through PCR genotyping adenosine A2A gene and cytochrome P450 1A2 gene polymorphism.

I enjoy singing (with EVE my acappella group), collecting CDs, swimming, watching documentaries, traveling, cat-overdosing, and e-gaming. I love learning about all kinds of history, especially war and health history, and just LOVE listening to stories! Certified world-class listener.