Last, but not least, of our graduating seniors of 2019 is Kirk Atkinson. Kirk joined the lab via Prof. Kristine Nolin who he had for organic chemistry. He studied abroad in the fall of his junior year and came back ready to start a synthetic project. As the virus-like particle project was moving along well and we had picked up an interesting new idea from attending SERMACS in the fall, Kirk joined the biochemical project from the synthetic side. Although he may have forgotten, in the summer of 2018, he even expressed and purified protein alongside the whole team. However, he focused mostly on making small molecules that allowed us to derivatize our particles. He became familiar with NMR, TLC, MS, and UV-Vis. He is a co-author on the manuscript that is currently under review. Kirk was a dynamic addition to the team; he is enthusiastic, intelligent, and always ready to make a joke. In addition, he added some testosterone to a female-dominated lab. Let’s see what Kirk said in reflection to his time in the research lab.

Q1. Why did you decide to join the NoPo lab?

Kirk: I joined Team Viral Sponge because the concept of the research was very intriguing. Looking beyond what the group has accomplished, there are endless possibilities in which this research can be applied for further research. I joined the team through Dr. Nolin and met Dr. Pollock on the way. Both were incredibly nice and professional.

Q2. What was your favorite part about your research experience?

Kirk: My Favorite part of the research experience was the rewarding sensation felt by all when something worked as planned. All of the hard work and effort makes the success that much more enjoyable. 

Q3. What do you plan to do after graduation?

Kirk: I plan to pursue my PhD in organic chemistry at the University of Notre Dame

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?

Kirk: Work hard, play hard. Late nights are a must from time to time, but so is having fun.


Kirk – as you head off for graduate school this fall, I have two pieces of advice: 1) Don’t lose your enthusiasm for when the science works, it will keep you pushing forward, and 2) Don’t forget to learn from the failures; graduate school will be tough but sometimes you can learn more when an experiment doesn’t work. Stay in touch and good luck at Notre Dame. We will be rooting for you!