Ben Mack (Chemistry '15)

Photo of Zoe VanderPloeg Briefly describe your research/creative discovery experience?

With the help of Dr. A. Almeida, my research project was set to observe the sensitivity of Staph. aureus to varying antibiotics in order to determine the minimal inhibitory concentration of each antibiotic. This process was done by inoculating cultures of the S. aureus bacteria over the course of three days. Once grown to optimal cell density, the bacteria were added to varying concentrations of specific antibiotics. Next, twenty-four hours after the antibiotics were introduced to the bacteria, the absorption of the cells were analyzed on a 96-well plate to determine extent of cell death, if any. Finally, the data were recorded in a graph in order to compare multiple trials.

What did you gain from this experience? Was it challenging? What did you learn?

Although I did learn much about how my professor operates a lab and how to interact with graduate and fellow undergraduate students, I learned the most about myself during this summer research. Personally, having to think past the multiple roadblocks that I continually encountered during my summer research helped me grow intellectually and mentally. Not only was I able to discover the scientific answers I sought, but I was also able to become more quizzical and patient towards scientific exploration.

How did you get involved in this research project?

As a curious student, my interest in research was due to both a fascination to the unknown that lies within chemical research and a connection and appreciation to the highly admirable teaching style of Dr. Antji Almeida. I sought out Dr. Almeida and begged for the invaluable opportunity to work in her lab. After enjoying the sight of me groveling on her office floor for a few moments, she kindly accepted my plea.

In what way will your research experience help make you a more viable candidate when you are seeking a job or applying for gradaute study?

As I prepare to apply to medical schools, my experience completing my research will provide me with valuable personal experience that better inform me on how I function as a student, worker, and scientist. The talking points that may now arise from this experience will aid me in standing out as a valuable applicant and, consequently, addition to their school of medicine.

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