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Prospective Students

EmilyAtieh2Name: Emily L. Atieh

Major(s) and Minor: Major: Chemistry, Minor: Religion

Year: Graduated 2013

 

Why did you choose chemistry as your major?

I’ve always loved all sciences, from microbiology to astrophysics. But all science stems from a good understanding of chemistry. In high school, I really enjoyed learning about cells, but I was never satisfied with the explanations in the book – everything was explained in a macroscopic sense. I wanted to know more about the underlying “why,” and it was only through chemistry that I could find those reasons. Still, every time I read a science article or even just witness some phenomenon in every-day life, I try to stop and think about what is going on at the molecular level.

What did you like most about it?

The chemistry major was well-rounded enough that I really got to broaden my skills. Through my chemistry courses, I learned more about mathematics than I did in my math courses. I learned to be a better writer from my lab reports, a better problem-solver from my failed lab experiments, and a critical thinker from the journal articles I read. It was a challenging major, no doubt, but it made me a better person for it and showed me what I was capable of when I really had no idea.

What is your current position, what do you do, and what do you enjoy most about it?

Currently, I am a third-year graduate student here at CCB. I work in Professor York’s lab, as the first (and currently only) chemistry education researcher. I am interested in how to help General Chemistry students succeed. I run the Teaching Internship Program in General Chemistry, which offers a variety of supplemental instruction to our students. Essentially, I teach them how to be better teachers to the students. I also teach the course, Introduction to Chemistry Education, which explores the current literature in chemistry education. Many students don’t know how much research is done on education, and the overwhelming majority are pre-meds/pharmacy students – so, not teachers. But they still enjoy it and become better learners and communicators, which is important in any profession. My favorite part is after the course, when they tell me how they had no idea this field existed, and many of the pre-meds have decided to explore medical education in the future as well. Also, I just saw my first set of students graduate, which was bitter-sweet, but also really heart-warming.

What was your first job after Rutgers and how did you get it?

In my senior year, I was accepted into the Graduate School of Education’s Master’s program for the following fall, intending to become a high school chemistry teacher. I had taught the chemistry labs (171) in my senior year, and was looking for more teaching opportunities to earn some money in the summer. The professor for the lab courses instead recommended me to Professor York, who was just starting a new project in General Chemistry. The day after my undergraduate graduation, I started working full-time with Professor York and his eLearning team as a content developer. I mostly created videos, homework/quiz assignments, and other learning materials for General Chemistry and the summer ChemPrep course.

How did you move from that first job to your current position?

The summer job with eLearning turned into much more, as I continued to work there during my Master’s degree. After about a year in the program, I started the Teaching Internship in General Chemistry and I realized I didn’t want to teach high school anymore, I wanted to work in higher education. I completed my master’s degree in 2015, and joined Professor York’s lab as a Ph.D. student right after.

Looking back, what classes or experiences at Rutgers would you point to as contributing to your successes?

I would say two courses really contributed to my success, molecular biology/biochemistry and physical chemistry. MBB was tough, but it gave me a greater appreciation for the complexity of life. It is amazing all of the reactions that are constantly occurring, just for you to do something as simple as replicate skin cells after you get a scratch. Physical chemistry was the only course I was dreading as a chemistry major, and it was wonderful. I didn’t think I would be able to grasp the concepts, but I felt like I never actually understood chemistry until after that class. My religion minor provided me with a deeper knowledge of the world and greater empathy for people. Teaching the chemistry labs (via Chem-499) was the best decision I was ever talked into, and led to my love for teaching and current position.

What advice do you have for our current Arts and Sciences students?

College is a fresh start. Do all the things you didn’t think you were good at, because whether or not you were good is now irrelevant. Being “bad at math” or a “bad public speaker” is not an end state. No one knows you were bad at sports in high school, so go out there and play some soccer. Also, pick a major relevant to your field, and a minor relevant to your personal interests. Taking a history or art class is a great break from your science classes. Take every opportunity to learn about as many things as possible, even if “it’s not going to be on the test.” Make connections!! Put yourself out there – that random person you meet in class could be the one to recommend you to your first job!

 

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AnKur v2Name: Ankur Dalsania

Major(s) and Minor: Chemistry and Mathematics

Year: Class of 2017

 

His Chemistry Major Paved the Way to Medical School

Ankur Dalsania was always strong in science and math.

Arriving at Rutgers as a first-year student, he chose chemistry and chemical biology as his major because he felt the field offered the widest scope of possibilities.

“I thought chemistry would be a great major for me because of the way it combines biological and physical sciences,” he said. “It’s right in the middle and you could go in either direction.”

After graduating in 2017, Dalsania decided to pursue medicine. He’s attending Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and considering taking up such challenging specialties as radiology or cardiology while maintaining a strong interest in research. As he weighs the possibilities, he’s feeling grateful for his Rutgers chemistry experience.

“Chemistry afforded me the possibility of keeping many options open,” he said “And it trained me well for whatever my future may hold, whether it’s clinical, research, or a combination of both.”

Indeed, Dalsania enjoyed an eclectic range of experiences as an undergraduate chemistry major. He started doing research as a sophomore, working with Professor Deirdre O’Carroll, examining light-generating and light-harvesting processes in semiconductor materials and nanostructures.

“She’s a great mentor who puts in a lot of time with her students, including undergraduates,” Dalsania said. “I basically inherited a project that a graduate student had started, making thin-film devices for use in organic lasers or LEDs.”

The research led to the publishing of a paper—with Dalsania as the lead author— in the Journal of Materials Chemistry.

“I like the mysterious aspect of research,” he said. “You never know exactly what you are going to find. You feel like you’re pushing the boundaries.”

Other experiences included serving as an undergraduate teaching assistant, a position in which he essentially served as a teacher for 24 students in a lab class. He also travelled to China to take part in a research project at Jilin University.

He found time outside the lab and classroom to help build up the student chemistry community, serving as president of the Rutgers Chemistry Society. The group holds activities for chemistry students, and also organizes events for the entire campus, such as its Halloween pumpkin lighting, in which members used special salts to make the fire burn in different colors.

Looking back, Dalsania recalls how in high school he worried that Rutgers might be too big. He now believes that the depth of resources was a key ingredient in his undergraduate experience.

“There are so many things going on at Rutgers in terms of research, challenging courses, and activities,” he said. “Whatever you are looking for, you can find it here.”

 

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manessa 1aName: Manessa Lormejuste

Major(s) and Minor: Chemistry major French minor

Year: 2017

 

How did you decide on your major?

I decided to be a chemistry major as an alternative to pursuing pharmacology. Through chemistry I realized I could apply my knowledge to the field of cosmetics.

What was it about your chosen field (and the department) that appealed to you?

I was always interested in chemistry. What appealed to me the most was the high-level of science that was required for the field. It is a combination of theory, practicality and analytics that define the subject.

What was your favorite class/professor within your major?

Instrumental Analysis by Dr. Gene Hall!

What were your favorite academic experiences outside of your major?

Outside of my major I had the opportunity to study abroad in Paris, France. It was an extremely transformative experience. Having such great exposure to an alternative culture is why I am keen on continuing to travel today.

What were your other Rutgers activities?

While at Rutgers I was an LSAMP scholar, a member of the SAS honors program, and the public relations chair of the Rutgers Chemistry Society.

What are your plans following graduation?

Following graduation, I will be pursuing a Masters of Business and Sciene degree focused on personal care science. I will also be starting a job as an associate research chemist at L'Oréal.

JimmyPatel vSqName: Jimmy Patel

Major(s) and Minor: Double Major in Chemistry and Molecular Biology and Biochemistry

Year: 2013

 

Why did you choose chemistry as your major?

I joined the undergraduate program in 2009 as undecided and then I transitioned to “MBB” as my initial major during first year. When I started my second year, I took organic chemistry and immediately fell in love with the subject. While discussing the potential of a chemistry minor, Professor Brennan suggested that I add on chemistry as another major. I did, and haven’t looked back since. Chemistry quickly became my passion and Professor Brennan became one of the most influential people in my life.  

What did you like most about it?

I particularly enjoyed learning about organic synthesis. The ability to design and synthesize small molecules for a certain purpose, and their translational potential was very appealing.

Jimmy in blue coat v2What is your current position, what do you do, and what do you enjoy most about it?

I am an MD/PhD student in the lab of Professor Joel Freundlich at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, where I am currently being trained as a medicinal chemist. I finished the first two years of medical school and transitioned to the PhD program where I just started my third year (fifth overall) in the graduate school. In Professor Freundlich’s laboratory we utilize a multidisciplinary approach consisting of computational, chemical, and biological tools to unearth novel chemical agents that are potentially efficacious against bacteria and viruses causing diseases of significant global burden (such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis, ESKAPE pathogens, and Zika virus, to name a few). Part of our vision is to be able to develop novel compounds with unique mechanisms of action in order to combat drug-resistant infections.

What I enjoy most about being in the MD/PhD program is that while going through medical school, you come to learn about diseases that are of major concern to our society as well as current treatment strategies. After this, in the research phase of the program, you have the opportunity to directly address the needs of medicine. In other words, you have the opportunity to push the boundaries of medicine forward. Particularly, in the Freundlich group, we have the opportunity to address emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases, drug-resistant infections, the drug discovery process, and the translational potential of our group’s research is what makes coming into lab an awesome experience.

What was your first job after Rutgers and how did you get it?

Actually, after graduating I started medical school. However, during my junior and senior years at Rutgers I did work for Croda Inc. as an intern which transitioned to a full-time position by senior year (I fortunately finished my reqs by the end of junior year so I became a part time student in senior year). How I got the position is a little interesting – so the chemistry department holds an end of the year awards ceremony and somehow in my junior year I received an award titled “Croda Award for Excellence in Organic Chemistry Lab.” Trying to be the humble student I asked Professor Brennan for some email addresses from Croda just so I could say thank you for sponsoring the award. To my surprise it actually turns out that I emailed and thanked the President of Croda North America, Kevin Gallagher, and two weeks later I had a job interview……lucky! Croda International is actually a specialty chemicals company and part of the esteemed FTSE100 companies in Europe, so it was an incredible honor to have an opportunity to work here. At Croda I was an intern for the Applications and Research & Development Departments. Here we worked on utilizing green chemistry and formulations to develop personal care products such as sun screens, hand and body lotions, shampoos, etc.

How did you move from that first job to your current position?

I had to leave Croda Inc after I graduated from Rutgers in order to transition to medical school that summer. With the merger of UMDNJ and Rutgers that summer as well, I never left Rutgers at least!

Looking back, what classes or experiences at Rutgers would you point to as contributing to your successes?

Right off the bat, I would have to say organic chemistry. Oftentimes students will have this conception that organic chemistry is some sort of hurdle, but I would argue that organic chemistry is rather the gate to a student’s creativity. What I mean by this is that there is so much to learn in organic chemistry and so many ways to approach a question that you have to choose what works best for you in terms of approaching studying or addressing synthesis problems. It certainly was the turning point for my undergraduate studies as I found what studying mechanisms worked best for me, and this has transitioned into medical school as well.

What I also enjoyed most during Rutgers were the teaching opportunities. Thanks to the efforts and guidance of Professor Boikess and Professor Brennan, I was fortunate to be part of the first group of undergrads to TA organic chemistry and run a section of chemistry lab during our junior and senior years. I feel that the teaching opportunity and interactions with the underclassmen is a transformative experience and it’s also part of the reason why I lecture organic chemistry for an undergraduate program at our medical school this summer. I have had surreal moments where I got thank you emails, Facebook messages, or even stopped in person in medical school by my previous “students” (luckily they have all been very positive interactions!!). But still, I am also a student – I am still learning and working and trying to establish my path just like anyone else. Yeah, I would say that I have been very lucky to have had the opportunities that lead to where I am today, but I feel that my true successes have been those interactions with the underclassmen. I feel joy when I see that I can directly impact and mentor others and that is also part of the reason why I joined medical school and the MD/PhD program – to have the ability to make an impact on other people’s lives.

Also, while on the topic of mentoring I feel that this has also been a major factor in my personal progress. At Rutgers, I have been extremely fortunate to be mentored by Professor Brennan (we have an on-going joke where I am his problem child since I would always bring up administrative issues with him while we were establishing the chemistry lab course!). Also, Professor Jeehiun K. Lee was the first person to accept me into her lab and under her guidance I was able to do my honors thesis and really prepare myself for a future in the MD/PhD program. I could continue this list for ages since literally everyone in the chemistry and MBB department have been integral to the whole process. Also, I am technically still at Rutgers!! Therefore, I absolutely have to take this opportunity to thank my PI, Professor Joel Fruendlich for his outstanding mentorship and for pushing me to become a better person day by day. A big thank you to everyone!

What advice do you have for our current Arts and Sciences students?

First of all I would like to say congratulations for being at Rutgers! Just by that decision alone, you have positioned yourself to trek any path you desire with ample tools to reach the end of your undergraduate path, wherever that may take you. In terms of advice, I would have to say that every student needs to keep an open mind. Yes, many of you will have the same goal at the end, for example medical school, graduate school, or landing an industry job but it is up to you to take the path that is right for you to reach that goal.

Undergrad is a time where you can really establish yourself as a person. The classes from majors and minors are simply guidelines and checkpoints along this path but you also need to stop and enjoy the uncharted paths and the low hanging fruit and Rutgers does a good job of supplying these to you. What I mean by this is that you should always be adventurous - try to find new courses, volunteering opportunities, and research opportunities to help you gain perspective. It is very important to diversify yourself so that you can write yourself a unique story. Also, find good mentors. You cannot go through your path alone, no matter who you are. Mentors will be your strength, support, and guides even through the most difficult of times. They too will help give you a perspective of where and who you are. Finally, be good mentors.

At the end of the day, I know that if you push yourself you will make it to where you want to be, and it is then where you need to take a step back and guide those that will follow you. Don’t tell them to follow in your footsteps, but instead tell them to break ground on their own path and guide them along the process – you will see your success in this.

 

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Tamr Atieh v1Name: Tamr Atieh

Major(s) and Minor: Major: Chemistry and Chemical Biology Minor: Biochemistry

Year: Started in Fall of 2010, graduated in May 2013

 

Why did you choose chemistry as your major?

Chemistry is a subject that has always fascinated me. I found it to be the subject that has given me the most answers to how our universe works. This includes everything from how drugs are made, to how solar panels work. From high school, I felt like if I mastered chemistry, I would have the best understanding of our world. Biology was never specific enough and physics was always too abstract. Chemistry was real and all around us.
What did you like most about it?
Chemistry is an extremely diverse topic with many different applications. There’s an aspect of chemistry that any person can appreciate. Whether it is studying water splitting reactions (inorganic), discovering new drug molecules (organic), understanding the nature of proteins (biological), or using quantum mechanics to model reactions (physical), chemistry provides a path for anyone who is interested in science.

What is your current position, what do you do, and what do you enjoy most about it?

I will be starting my third year as a graduate student here at Rutgers University, pursuing my Ph.D. I currently work in the Baum lab researching proteins that are implicated in Parkinson’s disease. What is great about graduate school, is that I really have more freedom in the direction of my project and I have more discretion as to how to approach problems.

What was your first job after Rutgers and how did you get it?

Shortly before graduation I applied to several jobs through staffing agencies. One day I received a call for an interview for Church & Dwight (the makers of Arm & Hammer and Oxyclean). I received a call back with a job offer the same day and started shortly after. At Church & Dwight I helped formulate new laundry detergents and researched how to create surfactants in-house.

How did you move from that first job to your current position?

After a year at Church & Dwight I moved over to Johnson & Johnson Consumer Products. There, I worked in the Global Baby Product Development formulating new shampoos, washes, and lotions. During that time I realized that I had been missing something, and that was furthering my education. I decided to put that part of my career on hold while I attended Rutgers University. I always get asked why I left my job, and it was simply because I did not want to ever regret not taking the opportunity to earn my Ph.D., which will allow me to advance my career in many different ways. Since then, I could not be happier with that decision.

Looking back, what classes or experiences at Rutgers would you point to as contributing to your successes?

Instrumental to obtaining my first job was having research experience in a lab as an undergraduate for Dr. Lawrence Williams. That experience not only helped with my resume but also helped me become more independent and comfortable within a lab setting.

The most important class that I took, which got me interested in proteins, was Biochemistry. This allowed me to finally understand many of the processes our body undertakes from a molecular perspective. It also gave me a greater appreciation for how proteins are essential tools of study to help us understand the pathology of diseases.

What advice do you have for our current Arts and Sciences students?

Be proactive with your future. Look for undergraduate research and apply for internships or co-ops. When you graduate these will be some of the most important things that will be on your resume. Internships and co-ops will also help you obtain permanent positions at the same company when you graduate.

 

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