The last of the class of 2021 from the Pollock lab is biology major, Lucy Zhou. Lucy is probably the most independent student that has worked in the lab over the years. During summer 2019, she joined in on the MEMO project in a new (and synthetic direction). It is ironic that the biology major ended up with the most organic chemistry project. But I think she was happy to do something different than her classroom experiences as a junior and senior. There were lots of ups and downs (always with synthesis) but the end of this semester wrapped up with her finally having the chance to test her compounds and resulted in some interesting primary results. Lucy’s long term plans are to go to medical school. I think with her commitment to schoolwork and her independence she will be able to succeed. Let’s see Lucy’s reflections to my questions: 

1. Why did you decide to join the Pollock lab?

Lucy: I joined the Pollock lab because I was interested in doing organic chemistry research, so I reached out to some professors in the chemistry department. After talking to Dr. Pollock and hearing about project of MEMO and its relation to breast cancer, I knew almost immediately that this is the lab that I wanted to join. I loved Dr. Pollock’s passion and enthusiasm when we talked about the projects, I’ve always wanted to investigate breast cancer and cancer research seemed so cool, and I also hoped to incorporate organic chemistry with biology in some way being a Biology major myself. The Pollock lab seems to have everything that I wanted so I joined happily!

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

Lucy: I think I would have to say that I have two favorite parts. The first is getting to know everyone personally. One of my favorite memories was when all gathered together at Dr. Pollock’s house during summer research, and we played a bunch of different games, chatted, ate the delicious food that Dr. Pollock had prepared, and had a wonderful time together. Getting to know everyone in the Pollock lab and getting to know Dr. Pollock made my research experience memorable and fun.

My other favorite part about research is when I discovered that I had made the desired compounds after doing experiments, troubleshooting, and repeating the experiments. The feelings of happiness and content were very real and weren’t like anything else, and that moment of accomplishment made doing all the experiments all worth it.

3. What do you plan to do after graduation?

Lucy: I plan to take a gap-year before medical school, and during this year I plan to work as a medical scribe. I also plan to do some traveling during next summer before medical school to enjoy some nature!

4. 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?

Lucy: My biggest advice would be to not be afraid of reaching out, whether it be a professor, an upperclassman, a supervisor etc. People are willing to help, and don’t feel bad for having to reach out; if you want to reach out to someone, don’t hesitate to do it. Another really important thing is to try out different things during your first two years in order to identify your interests and make sure that this is what you enjoy and what you want to do. When you realize that something may not be for you (i.e., it is a lot different than what you had imagined), don’t be afraid to leave this and start doing something else. Four years pass by quickly, so you want to make sure that you are doing things that you are enjoying the most are having a great time!

Lucy – Congratulations on graduation! I’m sure you will have a productive year scribing at a hospital. Make sure to keep me in the loop as you finish up the MCAT and make your med school decisions. Good luck!