Becoming a Scientist

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Alyssa Ashbaugh ’14 with Professor Devavani Chatterjea

CATEGORY: Academics
TYPE: Articles
RELATED PROGRAMS: Biology

Alyssa Ashbaugh ’14
Madison, Wis.
Biology (biochemistry emphasis)

“Working collaboratively as undergraduates signals that we’ll be prepared to work successfully with other scientists in the future.”

I study the intersection of allergies and pain, specifically chronic pain that develops as a result of allergic inflammation. Understanding the functions of molecules involved in the inflammatory response may someday help us address chronic clinical pain disorders.

The most valuable aspect of my research experience—in addition to the lab skills I acquired—was the passion I developed for the investigative process. In my Research in Immunology course I became immersed in the complete scientific process: examining the literature, posing tangible questions and hypotheses, designing experiments, interpreting results, and presenting findings.

I’ve also appreciated the chance to collaborate with other students. Science is founded on collaboration, and the fact that we work together as undergraduates signals that we’ll be well prepared to work successfully with other scientists in the future.

Our professors’ dedication permeates every lecture, office visit, and chance meeting in the hallway. In addition, Mac’s Science and Research Office (SRO) helps students discover research opportunities and connect with principal investigators at Macalester and beyond. With their help I landed a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) in chemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) in the Mayo Clinic’s immunology department.

Last summer I was awarded the Jan Serie Student-Faculty Research Fellowship, which honors the late Macalester professor and immunologist Jan Serie. After graduation I plan to pursue a PhD in immunology. I aspire to address unmet medical needs and to someday inspire my own students to discover for themselves the beautiful complexity of science I have found through my research at Macalester.

PUBLISHED: 01/09/2014