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Better Living through [Plant] Chemistry

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CATEGORY: Academics
TYPE: Articles
RELATED PROGRAMS: Biochemistry

By | Julie Sun ’14
Shanghai, China
Chemistry (biochemistry emphasis)

Auxin is a hormone that regulates the development and growth of plants. In our research we used small organic molecules as tools to probe a set of protein-protein interactions that occur when a cell responds to auxin. Our investigation has led to a better understanding of plant growth, which could in turn lead to advances in agriculture, biofuels, and forest management.

My organic chemistry class prepared me to understand the basics of synthesis, and my biology courses helped me to appreciate the dynamics of protein-protein interactions in hormone-response pathways. At Macalester, classes not only teach students the scientific knowledge, but also encourage us to dive into the research literature.

Being a science major at Macalester is a great experience. Olin-Rice Science Center is a great place for students to get to know each other and work together in groups. Also, my professors are extremely accessible—answering questions, mentoring and advising us.

Because Macalester is located just minutes away from University of Minnesota, I have regularly been able to take advantage of chemistry seminars held there.

In addition, thanks to Macalester’s has close relationships with the Mayo Clinic, I was able to participate last year in the Mayo Innovation Scholars Program. Together with three other students—one biology and two economics majors—I evaluated the science and marketability of a Mayo Clinic product and learned how to transform bench research into a useful medical tool.

PUBLISHED: 01/22/2014