Chemistry and Biochemistry Student Ambassadors

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Reena Thara

A biochemistry major, Reena has been accepted in the Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarship Program and plans to practice medicine as a primary care doctor.

 

Why did you choose to attend UM?
I chose to attend the University of Mississippi partly because of the roots I already established as a kid attending Ole Miss football games, but the excellent reputation the research department has was a huge interest to me. I always wanted to be a part of some sort of research and gain experience in that field and the University of Mississippi has provided me with that opportunity.

Why did you decide to study biochemistry at UM?
Biochemistry allows you to study two fields of science in great depth. For someone like me, who didn’t know whether I wanted to study just biology or chemistry because I love both subjects, this option was most ideal. I’m glad I chose to study biochemistry at UM because I’ve enjoyed all of my classes.

What are your career plans?
I want to spend my life serving an underserved area in Mississippi as a primary care physician. I’ve been accepted into the Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarship Program, which is an excellent opportunity for students interested in giving back to their Mississippi community as a healthcare provider and becoming a part in combating the state’s current health crisis. I hope to be part of a larger mission in building rural communities as a whole through improved healthcare, education, and economic development.

Have you had an experience that made you feel empowered at UM?
I work as a student researcher in Dr. Pomin’s lab, which works with medications, specifically blood thinners. Blood thinners have a lot of side effects, so we hope to lessen these side effects with our research. It’s empowering working directly to improve drug discovery as a student researcher at the university.

Is there a professor who has been particularly helpful to you?
Dr. Jason Ritchie has been very helpful to me from the beginning. He taught me general chemistry my freshman year and now I have a strong foundation in chemistry, making upper-level chemistry courses easier to grasp. Also, he is my academic advisor and he helps me map out my course plans each semester. Of course, he always gives great advice and lots of words of encouragement as well!

What is your go-to meal in Oxford?
Jinsei’s sushi and their signature Asian wings, but also the kimchi fries with beef at Mi and Tea! I don’t think you could really go wrong with Asian food lol. Also, boba milk teas… those are heavenly!

What are you binge-watching/reading/listening to?
Kim’s Convenience, which I find very cute and comforting to play in the background as I binge read my MCAT textbooks (okay maybe not “binge” read as I should). Lastly, I listen to Hayley Kiyoko when I’m not listening to Kahn Academy explain the process of cell respiration.

Kaleb Henry

Why did you choose to attend UM?
Wanting to stay close to home, I decided to attend a university in Mississippi that is highly ranked in regard to chemistry. Because the University of Mississippi is ranked among the nation’s top 40 undergraduate programs in chemistry and biochemistry, I ultimately decided to only apply to this prestigious university.

When and why did you choose your major(s)/minors?
Being fortunate to have many affable, concerned science teachers, I have always had a fondness for chemistry and biology; however, algebra was the first subject that I truly enjoyed. Chemistry is pertinent to many people’s everyday lives, but chemistry also includes many applications of math. As a result, I chose biochemistry as my major and biology as my minor.

What would you tell a high school student about your major? What is most important for them to know if they’re interested in pursuing that field of study?
Biochemistry is the science of life at the molecular level. It can be regarded as a homogenous mixture between biology and chemistry. Many pre-med majors typically choose biochemistry or biology for their majors because most individuals who take the MCAT achieve higher scores than people who major in other fields of study. Despite the association between being a physician and biochemistry, biochemistry offers many other future careers, such as a pharmaceutical chemist.

Is there a professor who has been particularly helpful to you?
Dr. Gerald Rowland’s general chemistry II class had the most impact on me. The classroom environment was usually very lively, and I could tell immediately that Dr. Rowland was very knowledgeable about the field of chemistry. His teaching style was very fluid, and it became my preferred learning style. His course ensured that I made the correct choice in choosing my major.

What has been one of your most memorable or enjoyable moments at UM?
The most enjoyable moment for me at the university was going outside to play wiffle ball or football in front of Minor Hall after test days or just a long study session with a few friends.

What do you hope to do after you graduate? What are your career goals/ plans for post graduation?
After graduation, I hope to attend the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi. Following graduate school at the academic medical center, I hope to pass the board exam and complete my residency so that I can choose a specialty, which is currently pediatrics.

Apart from school, how do you spend your time in Oxford? What are your hobbies, favorite places to go, etc.?
Besides spending much of my time writing notes, I like to work out at either of Ole Miss’s gym facilities, and I spend many nights at the bowling alley Premier Lanes, which is connected to Malco Cinema Grill. Although I lose most of the time bowling, bowling and a movie is always my preferred leisure activity.

What is one thing you wish you knew as an incoming freshman that you’d tell your past self (about the general college experience)
The one thing that I hope that every college student knows is that time management is arguably the most important quality to have. Additionally, colleges are very spacious, so I wish I would have known to bring a type of transportation, such as a bike, to campus earlier than I did.

Ethan Jarrett

Why did you choose to attend UM?
Many factors drove me to attend the University of Mississippi. The main two factors were that I wanted to attend a college outside Texas and attend a University that promoted undergraduate research. When I came to tour Ole Miss, the guide talked about undergraduate research and helped ensure that this was the place for me!

When and why did you choose your major(s)/minors?
In high school, my favorite class was AP Chemistry. I had an excellent teacher and ended up having a fantastic experience in the class. Since then, I have wanted to pursue a degree in Chemistry. I chose to emphasize biochemistry because it includes many of the pre-med classes in its required courses. Lastly, I have a mathematics minor because it is built into the Chemistry degree.

What would you tell a high school student about your major? What is most important for them to know if they’re interested in pursuing that field of study?
I think it’s important to know that the Chemistry degree comes with many traditional “weed-out” classes. Organic Chemistry is probably one of the most well-known, especially for pre-meds. However, the course becomes more manageable if you try to reach out for help by attending Supplemental Instruction and the professor’s office hours. I also think it is crucial to get involved in research, and the chemistry department makes it very easy! I have truly learned the most about chemistry from my research. It’s an entirely different learning environment than a classroom.

Is there a professor who has been particularly helpful to you?
Many professors have helped me along my academic journey thus far, but the most influential is my research advisor Dr. Tanner. Furthermore, my academic advisor, Dr. Hammer, has been very supportive.

What has been one of your most memorable or enjoyable moments at UM?
One of the most memorable moments at UM has to be the football games. All of them have been a blast, and I love going with all my friends.

What do you hope to do after you graduate? What are your career goals/ plans for post graduation?
After graduation I hope to attend medical school.

What do you like to do outside of school (hobbies, interests, favorite places to go)?
My favorite place to go is Mi and Tea! I love their boba; it is a great setting to hang out with friends. For hobbies, I like to volunteer around campus and stay involved with the community.

What is one thing you wish you knew as an incoming freshman that you’d tell your past self (about the general college experience)?
I wish I knew how helpful office hours could be. I used to think it would be a hindrance to attend office hours since the professors could be doing more important things; however, it is quite the opposite. I was able to understand and grasp the things I was struggling with after I would attend office hours. So for an incoming freshman, I recommend always going to office hours if you are struggling.

Timothy Lewis

Why did you choose to attend UM?
I knew before coming here that the chemistry and biology departments, the two areas I was most interested in, were of high quality, and when I looked more into Oxford and the community here, I knew I was going to attend.

When and how did you choose your major(s)/minor(s)?
I picked my chemistry major and biology minor before signing up for my first classes freshmen year as I wanted to go to medical school, which has now transformed into instead wanting to go to graduate school for chemistry.

What would you tell a high school student about your major? What is most important for them to know if they’re interested in pursuing that field of study?
The chemistry department here at Ole Miss is one of the most welcoming on campus; everyone in the department knows and respects each other. I would say that getting involved in undergraduate research is very important early on, and it’s both easy and a great way to get to meet new people.Is there a professor that has been particularly helpful to you?
Biochemistry with Dr. Pedigo was one of the most challenging and humbling courses I’ve taken here, but it really showed me how to think about advanced concepts on a deeper level, and that last-minute cramming just wouldn’t work for some courses.

What has been one of your most memorable or enjoyable moments at UM?
Orientation week at the Honors College was one of the most fun weeks I’ve had on campus, and a few of the people I met there I’m still good friends with to this day.

What do you hope to do after you graduate? What are your career goals/ plans for post graduation?
After I graduate, I intend to go to graduate school for synthetic medicinal chemistry, and hopefully earn my doctorate; my dream job would be to work as a professor developing new antiviral pharmaceuticals.

Apart from school, how do you spend your time in Oxford? What are your hobbies, favorite places to go, etc.?
I’m hopelessly addicted to caffeine, and love visiting the various coffee and tea shops throughout Oxford, like Mi and Tea or High Point Coffee.

What is one thing you wish you knew as an incoming freshman that you’d tell your past self (about the general college experience)?
Make sure you get enough sleep before tests, avoid 8 am classes at all costs, and even though it may not be required sometimes, showing up for class is always a good idea.

Carly Clisham

Carly Clisham

Majoring in forensic chemistry with minors in biology and mathematics, Carly is a Dean’s Honor Roll student and a FASTrack Peer Leader, who helps high school students transition to college life while assisting in teaching a freshman experience class at the University. She is a member of the American Cancer Club, the Ole Miss Health & Nutrition Club, the Ole Miss Anthropology Club, and a student member of the American Chemical Society. Carly is looking forward to a future of making a difference in the justice system through a career as an environmental toxicologist.

 

Why did you choose to attend UM?
I chose UM because I loved the community feeling. The first time I stepped foot on campus I felt so welcomed andincludedin not only the OleMiss community but the Oxford community.

When and why did you choose yourmajor(s)/minors?
I knew what I wanted my major to be all through high school. I absolutely fell in love with forensics and chemistry the second I learned about it. I chose this major specifically because it felt like a way to make a difference in the justice system all while using chemistry. I chose my math minor because I love to problem solve and I chose my biology minor so I could be well-versed inmultiple scientific fields.

What are your career goals?
As of right now my career goal is to go into a PhD program for toxicology and work as an environmental toxicologist.

Is there a professor who has been particularly helpful to you?
Dr.Kerri Scott has made all the difference to me in my studies in forensics so far. She has pointed me in any direction I wanted to explore with her full support. Another professor that has been incredible to me is Mrs. Suzanne Wilkin in the FASTrack department. She was my EDHE 105 professor and I’m now working under her as a FASTrack peer leader! She has helped me in every aspect of college and I cannot be more thankful for her.

What has been a particularly meaningful way you have engaged in a community – eitheron oroff-campus?
This summer I worked as an Ecology Day Camp counselor for the Ole Miss office of pre-college programs. By doing this I felt so connected to the community as I helped teach the young kids in the Oxford area about the importance of taking care of their environment as well as teaching them about the animals around them everyday. I’m very passionate about taking care of theenvironment, so this was a very incredible experience for me.

What do you like to do outside of school (hobbies, interests)?
I absolutely love to read and to run. I also love all types of sports, but particularly hockey.

What are you binge watching/reading/listening to?
I’m currently reading “The Devil Wears Prada.” I am also watching the show “Longmire” on Netflix. That being said, I watch at least one episode of “Forensic Files” everyday.

What is your favorite place to eat in Oxford?
Hands-down my favorite place to eat in Oxford is Volta.

What do you want to change about the world?
I would love for more people to be informed on how to be environmentally friendly and sustainable. There is no wayto be fully perfect when saving the environment, but every little bit counts and the Earth appreciates it!

What are some dream travel destinations (and why)?
My mom is from Nicaragua, so I have always wanted to visit there so I could meet some more of my family. I have also always wanted to visit Bali as I’m fascinated by the culture and the beautiful sights there.

Ethan Lambert

 

Why did you choose to attend UM?
Being a Mississippi native, I was always drawn towards Ole Miss. The university is really developing in the STEM field, and the in-state tuition also doesn’t hurt. In the end, it was the environment on campus that sealed the deal. Ole Miss felt like a home and still does.

When and how did you choose your major(s)/minor(s)?
I applied to Ole Miss as a chemical engineering major. However, one semester in I quickly realized that I enjoyed studying more fundamental processes rather than bulk applications of materials. I changed my major to chemistry based upon the past love I had for it in high school, and I have yet to regret it.

What would you tell a high school student about your major? What is most important for them to know if they’re interested in pursuing that field of study?
The neat thing about chemistry is how broad the field is. In general, everyone studies the same basic principles, but a physical chemist and an organic chemist speak entirely different languages. The most important thing is to find a niche within the field that excites you and run with it.Is there a professor who has been  particularly helpful to you?
The class that has impacted me the most is probably Dr. Delcamp’s organic electronics class. I enjoy studying the interactions between light and molecules, and Dr. Delcamp’s class afforded me the opportunity to study those from a molecular standpoint rather than a physical one.

What has been one of your most memorable or enjoyable moments at UM?
The chemistry department has an incredible community. Between the differing research groups and the camaraderie within your class, I can honestly say that some of my most memorable moments have been with the people within the department; people I’d like to call my friends. Memories like going to research conferences, tailgaiting in the Grove, playing on intramural teams, and even just studying late in Coulter all encompass some incredible memories I’ve made here.

What do you hope to do after you graduate? What are your career goals/ plans for post graduation?
After graduation, I plan to apply to graduate school and pursue a PhD in chemistry with a focus on molecular photophysics. Once that mountain is climbed, I want to become a faculty member at a research university and start a research lab.

Apart from school, how do you spend your time in Oxford? What are your hobbies, favorite places to go, etc.?
I enjoy eating at the host of good restaurants in Oxford, enjoying the Square, and relaxing with friends.

What is one thing you wish you knew as an incoming freshman that you’d tell your past self (about the general college experience)?
As a member of the STEM field, get involved in research and find something you love to do as soon as possible. Research has opened a host of opportunities to myself including traveling on conferences, having specific credit hours just to do research, and studying what I love in preparation for my future.

Brendan Kelly

Brendan Kelly

While Brendan pursues a B.S. in forensic chemistry with minors in biological science and anthropology, he is also an active member of Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity and has held positions of treasurer and president of Delta Delta Epsilon Forensic Honors Society during his time at the University of Mississippi. Brendan maintains a spot on the Chancellor’s Honor Roll and has worked as a game operations worker with Hospitality Management Services at the UM Athletics Department during his time as an undergraduate.

 

Why did you choose to attend UM?

I chose to attend Ole Miss specifically for the Forensic Chemistry major. I grew up in Acworth, Georgia, and no universities in my home state offered any Forensic Chemistry programs. After looking at all of the local options in nearby states, I fell in love with Ole Miss right away.

When and why did you choose your major(s)/minors?

I am a major in Forensic Chemistry and a minor in Biological Sciences and Anthropology. I chose these programs because I was always fascinated with forensic methods in the news, movies, TV shows, and murder mysteries as a teenager, and I wanted to learn how to apply them myself. My interest in anthropology, however, didn’t develop until I had started attending Ole Miss. Human culture is something I am very interested in learning more about, as I think our differences in culture are what make humanity so beautiful and unique.

What are your career goals?I would love to work in a forensic crime lab in the future, either running tests on crime scene evidence, autopsies, or analyzing ancient human remains.

Is there a professor who has been  particularly helpful to you?

Dr. Scott, my Chem 106 professor, has been an unquantifiable influence on mytime here at Ole Miss. She is not only an excellent advisor, suggesting plenty of different minors and pathways to achieve your goals during your time in college, but she also makes learning chemistry entertaining and engaging while still teaching the material extremely well.

What will your legacy be at UM?

I hope that my legacy at Ole Miss is to be remembered as a student that empowered the underclassmen below me and supported my classmates and peers of other majors. I aim to build up my community around me rather than tearing people down just for my own success. I believe that shows in the way I help friends from other departments study and prepare for exams and projects, as well as my connections with my friends within the Forensic Chemistry program.

What is your favorite place to eat in Oxford?

My favorite place to eat in Oxford is Ajax Diner. They have the best chicken and dumplings I have ever eaten in my entire life, not to mention the incredibly cozy atmosphere for a place right on the Square. I actually don’t think I can name asingle bad item on their menu. (And between you and me, my upperclassmen friends in my fraternity say it used to be BETTER.)

Ember Suh

Ember Suh is a forensic chemistry major with minors in biology and psychology who also works as an undergraduate researcher with the UM department of chemistry and biochemistry. Ember is a Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College scholar, president of the Korean Students Association, and a member of the Gamma Beta Phi Honor Society and the Chancellor’s Honor Roll. She is also a C19 and Global Ambassador, a provost scholar, and is fluent in Korean and English. In 2019, Ember was awarded the Cynthia Krieser Outstanding Freshman Writing Award for her narrative, “Closing the Gap Between South Korea and America: A Reflection of a Korean-American’s Learning.”

 

Why did you choose to attend UM?

When I first visited Ole Miss as a middle school student, I really loved the beautiful campus! I also saw how caring the people on campus were. From just researching what I should do at Ole Miss when I was applying, I saw the different opportunities that I could be a part of — FASTrack, the Sally McDonnell Barksdale College, organizations and clubs, and even in the individual academic departments!

When and why did you choose your major(s)/minors?

I am interested in chemistry, biology, and law. At first, I was a Biology major, but I realized during my sophomore year that Forensic Chemistry was the right “mix” of chemistry, biology, and law. I couldn’t leave Biology behind, so I decided to minor in Biology. I was also interested in Psychology, so I also decided to minor in Psychology.

What are your career goals?

Honestly, I am mixed between medical school and graduate school. I want to go to graduate school and earn a Ph.D. degree so that I can work at a crime laboratory, but I also want to go to medical school to become a physician. All I know is that my advisors at Ole Miss will guide me to a career path that best suits me.

Have you had an experience that made you feel empowered at UM?

I have always had a hard time writing for classes and in general, but Dr. Deidra Jackson’s Writ 101 class has made me feel comfortable and strong at writing. I was a very introverted person when I first came to Ole Miss, but FASTrack has introduced me to peers who were also in my position. I became more social and more open thanks to Dr. Jackson, Mrs. Wilkin, and the late Mrs. Jackie Certion, who has always made me smile even during my bad days.

Is there a professor who has been particularly helpful to you?

As a Korean-American, I had a hard time with my personal identity, but Dr. Deidra Jackson, my Writ 101 professor, helped me find where I truly belonged. Dr. Ryan Fortenberry, my Chem 105 professor, also encouraged me to take new challenges every day, and I eventually enjoyed chemistry while taking his class (he is one of the reasons why I chose Forensic Chemistry as my major). My former FASTrack instructor and mentor, Mrs. Suzanne Wilkin, and my current advisor and professor, Dr. Kerri Scott, also encouraged me to explore personally and academically.

What do you like to do outside of school (hobbies, interests)?

I like to draw birds and watch Korean and American shows! And, of course, I can’t forget about watching Korean dramas and listening to K-Pop! (I can learn new Korean words this way!)

What are some dream travel destinations (and why)?

I want to go to Australia and Iceland! I would love to go to Australia to walk along their beautiful beaches and marvel at their scenery, particularly the Great Ocean Road, and see Australian wildlife! I want to go to Iceland to also see the Blue Lagoon, Northern Lights, and the Gullfoss Waterfall (If you have never heard of the Blue Lagoon and the Gullfoss Waterfall, I highly recommend you to look it up! They are absolutely gorgeous!)