Highlights of Alumni Who Majored in Chemistry
Anselmians all over the country work in hospitals, laboratories, and technology companies all over the country. Meet a few:
Kristen Frano '12 discovered her passion on an archaeological dig in Italy, using chemistry to date ancient Roman coins. Now she is working toward her masters degree in chemistry at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va.
Kristen came to Saint Anselm knowing that she wanted to major in chemistry, but her specific area of research was undecided. She liked the small community feel of the college and the intimacy of her science courses.
"The classes are small enough that even in the general chemistry classes the professors know your name and are more than willing to help you if you're struggling," says Kristen.
"I also appreciated that, for the most part, the professors at Saint Anselm teach the laboratory sections for the courses they taught, which I think makes the communication between the theoretical, lecture part of chemistry and the practical, bench-top chemistry much smoother."
"I realized that I liked doing research when I recognized that I was excited to go in to the lab after classes almost everyday."
Italy and Independent Research
As a senior Kristen did her required independent research with Professor Mary Kate Donais who specializes in the use of instrumentation for analytical measurements. Professor Donais' recent research efforts involve analytical measurements on archaeological samples such as ancient bronze coins, lead pipes, pieces of fresco, floors, and mortar.
Some of this work is conducted in the laboratories at Saint Anselm College, while a large amount is conducted using portable instrumentation at the Classics Department's archaeological excavation sites in Italy. During Kristen's sophomore year she spent time with Professor Donais on the dig site at Coriglia near Castel Viscardo, Italy.
This experience, her enjoyment of her analytical chemistry classes, and the fact that Professor Donais had been her academic advisor since freshman year all pushed Kristen toward her choice of independent research. She focused on analyzing the metal contents in Roman bronze coins that were brought back from the archeological dig. Kristen found working one-on-one with her professor extremely helpful. "I definitely liked being able to bounce ideas for research off of someone who had expertise and enthusiasm for their field."
"My Saint Anselm research on Roman coins made me realize that I was interested in using science to study art and cultural heritage objects. Now, at William & Mary studying oil paintings at the Colonial Williamsburg museum."
Chemistry and Art
Currently, Kristen is working at earning her masters in chemistry at the College of William and Mary where, as at Saint Anselm, the graduate courses are generally small, with individual attention for each student.
"It's a two-year program; I take classes and do research, and I am a teaching assistant for the first year. Then I move to full-time research the second year."
She's currently using a technique called Raman spectroscopy to study art samples from oil paintings at the museum at Colonial Williamsburg.
As for her plans after graduate school, Kristen is still unsure. "Originally I was planning on getting into art conservation science and looking for a job in an art museum doing research, but I also realized I like being a teaching assistant so I'm also thinking about teaching at either a high school level or at the community college, adult education level," says Kristen. "We'll see!"
Whatever she does, Kristen has the drive and skill to "dig in" anywhere and be successful in her field and in life.
Everything's going green, including chemistry. Amy Cannon, class of 1997, holds the world's first doctorate in green chemistry, and she uses it to find safer technologies for everything from solar energy conductors to hair perm devices. She is the co-founder and executive director of Beyond Benign, a nonprofit organization that raises awareness of "green chemistry."
"Our mission is to inspire future scientists and create more informed consumers so that we can have safer processes and products that are also safer and more efficient and economical," Cannon says.
The non-profit organization teaches students, educators and citizens about green chemistry, and looks for ways to create sustainable products using natural biological processes. Cannon often speaks at K-12 schools in the Boston area, as well as to audiences in industry and higher education.
She earned her Ph.D. in green chemistry from the University of Massachusetts, working on the environmentally benign synthesis of photoactive materials. She has worked in industry for the Gillette Company and Rohm and Haas Electric Materials and has taught at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.
Brian Corbett's plans to become an orthodontist changed when he took analytical chemistry with Professor Mary Kate Donais. He loved the course so much, he decided to get a Ph.D. in chemistry at the University of Rhode Island and become a college teacher. While teaching on the college level, though, he was disappointed by the level of preparation he saw in his students. So he decided to teach high school instead.
Corbett teaches at an international baccalaureate school in South Carolina, where he also coaches baseball and helps out with dramatic productions. One of the ways he reaches students and sparks their passion about chemistry is by talking about food.
"The science behind cooking techniques has to do with energy transfer," he says. "Food is something we all have in common. It's a universal interest. When we separate a homogeneous mixture into curds and whey to make ricotta cheese, or talk about how the density of an egg changes as it gets older, it's an opportunity to teach them something they understand."
Corbett is thrilled to teach people who have the potential to go on to graduate school and do "amazing things." He was recognized by the Western Carolinas Section of the American Chemical Society for his inspiring work.
As a freshman majoring in criminal justice, Marc Dupre liked the idea of detective work but was not sure what role he wanted to play in law enforcement. A professor suggested changing his major to chemistry if he was interested in crime scene analysis. Now a criminalist at the New Hampshire State Police Forensic Laboratory, the Manchester, N.H., native helps unravel major crime mysteries.
Dupre knew he chose the right line of work when he helped solve a heinous double murder early in his career. "I found a partial palm print impression in blood on a stone hearth. It was a great find." By locating and identifying the bloody impression and a fingerprint on one of the victim's legs, he did his part in bringing the killers to justice.
Dupre got his first taste of the State Police lab during an internship in his senior year at Saint Anselm. His first job there was an entry level position as a fingerprint technician. Over more than 17 years, he has worked his way up to supervising three units at the laboratory - the evidence control, identification, and firearms and tool marks units.
In his daily work, Dupre encounters the dark side of humanity, one littered with victims. "I just look at it as a job, a responsibility. I keep my head on straight and use the tools I learned without getting into the emotional side of it." Of course, there are cases that are seared into his memory. He learns from each of them. "The work never gets dull. It's always interesting. It's like opening a new puzzle box every day."
Dupre also co-owns and works as a supervising scientist at Forensic Comparative Science Specialists, LLC in Concord, NH on the side.
Biochemist Judith Kelleher-Andersson, Ph.D., a member of the class of 1981, arrived at Saint Anselm College with an interest in forensics. It was not until she was hired as a lab assistant her junior year by biochemistry professor, Dr. Daniel Lavoie, that she began to realize her future might have something else in store for her.
Today, Kelleher-Andersson is the founder, president, and chief scientific officer of Neuronascent, Inc., a biotechnology startup in Clarksville, Maryland. She founded Neuronascent in 2004, and she has more than 70 U.S., European, and world patents. She works to discover drug therapies for neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease, Huntington's Disease, and depression.
In the summer of 1980 Kelleher-Andersson got her first taste of professional research, in a National Science Foundation (NSF) funded project looking at protein involved in infection. "It was important for my career. I didn't realize I enjoyed research so much."
Kelleher-Andersson went on to earn her Ph.D. in biochemistry at the University of Missouri and completed two post-doctoral studies in neurobiochemistry and neurology at the University of California.