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This story is part of our news archives, prior to July 2010.

Elissa Butler

Grapevine, Texas
Chemistry and anthropology, African studies concentration

Extracurricular: Varsity cross country and track for three years at Mac, Hildegard Singers women’s choir for four years

Research on campus: Research with Mac chemistry professor Thomas Varberg on diatomic molecules to determine things like their bond length and energy levels. I like to say we shoot really sweet lasers at molecules.

elissa in australiaResearch off campus: At the University of Sydney, Australia, with Professor Varberg and Ben Knurr ’09, looking at molecules thought to be in interstellar space.

Publications: “Electronic spectrum of AuF: Hyperfine structure of the [17.7]1 state,” Journal of Physical Chemistry A, 113, 13428–13435 (2009). Co-authors: Benjamin J. Knurr*, Elissa K. Butler* and Thomas D. Varberg

“Excited electronic states of AuF,” Journal of Physical Chemistry A, in press. Co-authors: Elissa K. Butler*, Benjamin J. Knurr*, Kara J. Manke*, Tyson R. Vervoort* and T. D. Varberg,

*Mac undergraduates

Sidelines: Teaching the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) prep class after doing well on the MCAT exam.

Inspired by: While I was studying abroad in Mali, I worked at a rural vaccination clinic. There was a village health worker in a tiny village about 12 km from the clinic by way of cattle trails. He kept records of all of the children in his village, which vaccines they had received, and their growth. This man, who has no medical training, influenced his community in a positive way with the resources he had. I greatly admire his dedication.

Future plans: Applying to medical school. After that, I hope to work with an international health organization such as Doctors Without Borders or Partners in Health.

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