Next (and last) in the graduating seniors of 2023 is Hannah Parker. Hannah is a Health Care Studies major with a minor in Chemistry; she is my first non-Chemistry, Biology, or BMB major. I remember distinctly my first conversation with Hannah – it was on Zoom because we were in the middle of the pandemic and she was studying remotely from her house only a few miles from campus. I had just finished teaching biochemistry lecture in the fall and I had this crazy idea for a new project. Hannah jumped on it right away and worked remotely for quite a bit of the project. Since it was based on a computer, most of our interactions were through Zoom even when she was back on campus. I remember meeting her for the first time in person and saying “wow, you are taller than I imagined!” Ha. Funny how you get a vision in your mind from a face that isn’t exactly correct. Anyway, Hannah made a lot of progress on the project and we are still rapping it up (more to come soon!). In addition, she helped write the mini-review article last summer on estrogen receptor pro-drugs. She always has a positive attitude and I can’t wait to see what she will do throughout her life.

Let’s see what Hannah says in response to my questions:

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

Hannah: I joined the Pollock lab my sophomore year when I was remote student due to Covid. I was interested in finding research experience that combined my interests in public health, medicine, and chemistry. Dr. Pollock had recently thought of a project that would combine all these interests and be beneficial for biochemistry educators and students alike. Together we created an interactive map of human metabolism that was overlayed with information about known gene mutations and associated genetic disorders. We are hoping this map can act as a resource for students learning biochemistry, and specifically students that are interested in the more medical applications of the subject. I was so excited to get to participate in this research as a part of the Pollock Lab!

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

Hannah: My favorite part of my research experience was having the opportunity to deep dive into a medical application of biochemistry that I would not otherwise have had the opportunity to learn about. Specifically, I loved learning about genetic mutations that lead to increased prevalence of psychiatric disorders. 

3. What do you plan to do after graduation?

Hannah: After graduation I have a job as a research program coordinator for the Brain Health Program at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine where I will be working on a couple of their ongoing studies.

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? 

Hannah: My best advice would be to reach out to everyone that you can during your time at Richmond. If I had not taken the risk and reached out to Dr. Pollock sophomore year I would have never known that she had an idea for a project and would never have had the opportunity to participate in this research. There are so many incredible opportunities at Richmond if you seek them. 

Hannah – I’m so glad you took a chance on a new project and that you were able to grow in your interests. I wish you all the best with the MCAT this summer and with your new position at Johns Hopkins. Keep in touch!