I entered F&M as a freshman in 1988 with a keen interest in the sciences. My first chemistry class was taught by Professor James Spencer, who later asked me to participate in the Hackman Scholars Program for mentored summer research in his laboratory. After that first summer I was hooked, and research became an integral part of my F&M experience.
After spending three summers doing physical chemistry research with Dr. Spencer, I focused on my major and applied to do an honors thesis with Professor Richard Fluck in the Biology department. I truly enjoyed the hours I spent in the lab before and after my classes studying Medaka fish development. I was also fortunate to be given the opportunity to present my work at a national scientific conference in Philadelphia. Notably, this experience showed me how appealing academic research can be, and is one of the most influential factors that led me to apply to graduate school and obtain my PhD.
While my time spent doing research was extremely valuable, what really distinguished my experience at F&M was the liberal arts curriculum and the emphasis placed on writing, even for science majors. During my time at F&M, not only did I gain valuable hand-on research skills, but I also learned how to write clearly, think critically and communicate my findings to others. These skills have proven to be essential for my success as a scientist.