We are on to graduating senior #4 of 2019. Shannon Laughlin is a chemistry major who is heading off to dental school in the fall. She is officially the first graduate of the Pollock lab who will be a dentist in her future career (yah for clean teeth!). I remember fondly discussing why she wanted to be a dentist and how she looks up to the women of Baicy Dental (by happenstance, my dentist!). Shannon has been an integral member of the collaboration between my lab and Kristine Nolin’s lab. She is half of the dynamic duo (Ritwika is the other half). Although Patrick was the first research student who worked on the virus-like particle collaboration of the NoPo (Nolin-Pollock) lab, the dynamic duo really moved it forward. Shannon, in particular, spear-headed a number of techniques including particle stability using sypro-orange. She has also perfected plating TEM samples and prepping protein for MALDI analysis. She is very organized, enthusiastic about learning, and a leader among the other students. She is a co-author on a submitted manuscript and will mostly likely be on a second one in the future. In addition to the research lab, Shannon has been actively involved in the UR chapter of Alpha Chi Sigma, the national chemistry fraternity. This past year she has served as the president (master alchemist) and has worked hard to make sure the organization is thriving. I think she has made her mark at UR in a variety of ways. Let’s see what she said in reflection of her experience:
Q1. Why did you decide to join the NoPo lab?
Shannon: I joined Team Viral Sponge during my sophomore year after Dr. Nolin described the project to me. I was excited by the fact that TVS was a brand new project and that it would give me the opportunity to work as a team with both professors and my peers.
Q2. What was your favorite part about your research experience?
Shannon: My research experience was overwhelmingly positive, but my favorite part has to be the friendships I formed with my lab mates. A favorite memory of mine is when Beauty and the Beast came out during summer 2017, and we watched the movie on a projector while prepping MALDI samples. The rest of the week, we were blasting the soundtrack on repeat.
Another aspect I appreciated was having two positive female role models. Since I had not taken biochemistry yet when I joined this project, it was wonderful to have mentors who encouraged and supported me to the extent that Dr. Nolin and Dr. Pollock did. Not only did I learn about biochemistry skills and critical thinking, but also about perseverance, communication, and leadership.
Q3. What do you plan to do after graduation?
Shannon: I will be attending Dental School at the University of Pittsburgh this fall. Over the summer, I will be a Dean’s Summer Research Scholar and conduct dental research!
Q4. As you reflect back on your time at University of Richmond, what advice would you give to an incoming student who was interested in your career path?
Shannon: I have two pieces of advice for any potential pre-dental students at UR. First, I would say to shadow dentists/specialists and explore the field. Secondly, don’t be afraid to ask your peers and mentors for advice! The process leading up to graduate school (standardized tests, applications, interviews, etc.) can be daunting, but the people who have already gone through it are a valuable resource.
Shannon – I can’t believe you are graduating. I thank you for always embracing whatever we threw at you to be “in charge of” for the summer. Although your first project focused on BPA and we haven’t quite made it to those studies yet, I promise to think of you fondly (and shoot you an email) when we do. I wish you all the best for dental school. I can’t wait to hear about your research experience this summer. I look forward to when I can refer everyone to the all female staff of Laughlin Dental. Stay in touch!