Why did you choose this graduate program?
I chose this graduate program because I wanted to apply my training in chemistry and biochemistry to something that I am passionate about - food and the environment. My lab experiences helped me get the research assistantship that I currently have.
What does your typical day look like/what responsibilities do you have?
There is no regular routine as a research assistant. Every day is different, depending on the progress of your research. There were days I did not have to be in the lab at all, and there were days I had to be in the lab for 12 hours. I work in a food microbiology lab and a food analysis lab. On a sampling day, I would go to my lab and start my research early in the morning (7am) so that I can leave in the afternoon to go hiking or kayaking.
My day in the food mircobiology lab consists of autoclaving lab supplies, making media, growing cultures, extracting DNA and running qPCR. On the days I work in the analysis lab, I prepare standards and samples, load them on the HPLC, then let it run for 2 days (depending on the amount of samples). Then, I occasionally check on the instrument to ensure everything is going smoothly.
Why did you choose this degree at Messiah College?
I chose this major because of all the applications and fields chemistry and biochemistry can be applied to. When deciding on a major, I was at a crossroad between pursuing a career in food science or agriculture research, and I saw biochemistry as a bridge between those two fields. The faculty at the department also helped me figure out my interests and passions while I was there.
How did your Messiah College degree prepare you for this career?
My time at Messiah College has trained me very well for my research assistant position. I was able to recommend different analysis procedures for my research without having extra training, due to my prior lab experience in Messiah College.
Is there any specific advice you would offer someone pursuing or considering
Just because you are pursuing this major does not mean you have to be interested in a career in healthcare or graduate school. Expand your horizons and explore what is offered. You don't have to worry about not finding a career you like, because this is such a versatile major. Anything is possible.
Do you have anything else you would like to share?
The professors in this department are the most welcoming and helpful people you'll ever meet. They will always make time for you when you need help. I would choose this major again if I could.