Once again it is graduation time. The Pollock lab has two dynamite graduating senior women who have worked on interesting aspects of the MEMO1 project. I am excited to see what they will do in the next stages of their careers.

First up is Haley Salus. Haley is a BMB major who joined the lab at the start of her junior year. To say that she is one of the most independent researchers I have would be an understatement. She started on a brand-new protein expression project (that ultimately didn’t work out) and pivoted well to a different aspect of the project. She generated A LOT of data even though one semester was while I was on maternity leave. Her senior presentation was impressive and well organized. Haley won the “Proton Award” during the BMB senior superlatives this year and I think that fits her perfectly; she is always optimistic and encouraging. She is going to make a great doctor one day. Let’s hear what Haley has to say about her time at UR in the Pollock lab:

Q: Why did you decide to join the Pollock lab?

Haley: I joined the Pollock lab the Fall of my Junior year! By that point, I had taken several upper-level Chemistry and Biology courses and knew that I liked both subjects! After exploring the websites of different professors, I was drawn to Dr. Pollock’s research and the Pollock lab! I have always been interested in oncology and cancer, so learning about breast cancer through research really intrigued me! Dr. Pollock is a wonderful mentor, and I learned a lot of great skills through my time in the Pollock lab, not only skills that helped me in other classes, but also life skills about organization and time management.

Q: What was your favorite part about your research experience?

Haley: My favorite part about my research experience was being able to be hands-on with a project and getting several opportunities to present the project to others. I was fortunate enough to spend a summer working in the Pollock lab, where I became very familiar with techniques involved in expressing, purifying, and characterizing a protein. Being able to see how what I have done in lab contributes to others’ learning has been so rewarding. I had the opportunity to present my research at the Southeast Regional Meeting of the American Cancer Society as well as at the University of Richmond’s Arts and Sciences symposium and Biochemistry student seminar series. Getting to explain to others what I have done in lab is really rewarding and I have learned a lot through doing it.

Q: What do you plan to do after graduation?

Haley: After graduation, I will be taking a gap year before medical school! During that time, I will be working in Richmond as a medical assistant at an endocrinology office.

Q: 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?

Haley: My advice to any incoming student interested in my career path would be to work hard but cherish every moment of college! There are so many exciting moments you have to look forward to, but you also have to balance being a busy college student with an at-times difficult workload. Make sure to study hard but also remember to take time for yourself and your mental health—spend time with friends or go on walks around campus and the surrounding neighborhoods! I recommend that any student interested in medicine looks into extracurricular activities that promote leadership or volunteering! You can learn a lot about yourself and others by getting involved in leadership positions or by volunteering in your community! These were two aspects of my college experience, besides being involved in research, that have been the most meaningful to me. I also would advise incoming students to not stress too much about classes/class registration. This was something that I always stressed about, especially being a pre-med student I worried I wouldn’t get all my requirements done in time. It’s a stressful process for everyone but I think most seniors would agree that it always works out in the end—I was able to take all the required classes for my major and I still had room leftover for interesting classes outside my major that I wanted to take! Finally, I would without a doubt recommend that every student gets involved in research at Richmond! It is such a unique opportunity that not many other schools offer to the extent that Richmond does. Being able to work on a research project as an undergraduate is so unique and so rewarding, I definitely encourage any incoming student to consider it!

Haley – I see your spirit in your answers to the questions and your enthusiasm for everything you do. Thank you for being a bright spot in the research lab for the past two years, always cleaning up after yourself (and others!), and getting so much done. I can’t wait to see where you end up for medical school and beyond. Stay in touch!