Michelle Ward '10
Molecular Biology major
Certificate in Quantitative and Computational Biology
Why did you enroll in the Integrated Science course?
I took the Integrated Science course because it seemed like a novel way to study biological systems. We did not just memorize facts; instead, the course focused on understanding the physics and chemistry behind living organisms. This was a unique course and an amazing opportunity for studying science.
What has it been like?
Simply put, the course has been amazing. As a freshman and sophomore in particular, I was able to spend hours talking one-on-one with my professors, some of whom were Nobel laureates or department chairs, and all of them were brilliant. The course also broadened my approach to science and taught me to combine my knowledge from various scientific fields to solve problems and ask even more questions. Perhaps best of all, I have enjoyed working with other undergraduates who also love science.
How has the course benefited you academically, and has it made you think about what to do after you graduate?
The course taught me to not limit my questions to a particular field. Rather, by asking questions about the chemistry and physics behind a biological system, I can learn about the biology from a more complete perspective. After graduation, I plan on pursuing public health or epidemiology. I plan on using the principle of integrating knowledge and experience from a variety of fields that I learned in this course to study and address issues in public health.
How do you like working with the various Integrated Science faculty?
The Integrated Science faculty was one of the best parts of the course. The professors were among the best in their fields, and they were all very accessible. They worked hard to collaborate with one another to make the concepts in the course flow smoothly together. In the Integrated Science program, I also had the best teaching assistant I have ever had, and he was a great resource in addition to the professors.
What is the project lab experience like that you do as a junior?
In project lab, you are treated like an actual scientist doing real research. With a lab partner, we research the field to select a topic, design a project, come up with a hypothesis and carry out the research to test that hypothesis. We are not told what to research or how to carry out every experiment; instead, we have the freedom to choose our own experiments. Collecting data and carrying out experiments that no one else has ever done is an amazing feeling. The staff was always helpful with suggestions and they answered our many questions.
What is it like going though the Integrated Science curriculum with a close cohort of student peers?
Going through the Integrated Science program, I developed many more close friendships with other science students than I would have otherwise. Everyone in the program works incredibly hard, but we are all willing to brainstorm together and help each other during late-night problem sets. Collaboration is encouraged because in the scientific world, collaboration is often necessary to do the best research. The close group of students helped me to get through the challenges of the course, and the students are definitely one of the best parts of the course.