Caitlin first became interested in biology during an AP biology course in high school. Following this class, she knew that she wanted to pursue biological sciences during her undergraduate career. She is currently in her senior year with a double major in biology and biochemistry at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. Caitlin is very involved in ecology education outreach at local elementary schools, ultimate Frisbee, and she is an admissions student ambassador. She is a member of several clubs and honors societies such as the Tri-Beta biological honors society and co-founder of the ASBMB chapter at SMCM. In addition to these activities, she enjoys sailing and other outdoor activities.
Caitlin is currently involved in a molecular microbiology research project investigating MORN protein domains isolated from pathogenic strains of bacteria. Her project aims to characterize the function of these domains in the hope of elucidating a potential mechanism of bacterial pathogenicity. She plans to continue research at the molecular level by pursuing a Ph.D. in graduate school.
Though the UAN chapter at SMCM is relatively new, Caitlin has benefitted greatly from its establishment. As co-founder, she has been able to take a leadership role as well as collaborate with other students and faculty. She especially appreciates the fact that the UAN has brought together undergraduates from several disciplines and bridged the student relations gap between biology and biochemistry majors.
Ritankar Das, 18, is the youngest University Medalist (top graduating senior) at U.C. Berkeley in at least a century. He completed a double major in bioengineering and chemical biology, with a minor in creative writing. He completed over 200 units in just three years with a 3.99 GPA. He is the first student from the College of Chemistry in 58 years — and the first ever from the Department of Bioengineering — to earn the honor. Das will head to Oxford University to pursue a master's degree in biomedical engineering with a fully funded Whitaker Fellowship. He will then continue his studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he has been admitted to the chemistry Ph.D. program. At Berkeley, Das helped manage a $1.7 Billion budget as an Academic Senator. He also founded the Berkeley Chemical Review research journal, designed a chemistry DeCal course, and was a graduate student instructor.
Ritankar founded See Your Future, a student-run non-profit that presents scientific content to middle and high school students through in-class demonstrations, videos, interactive activities, and games. Das, a published alternative energy researcher since age 12, has received awards from the major scientific societies in chemistry (ACS), physics (APS), and biology (ASBMB), and NSF. He also analyzed entries for the Presidential Green Chemistry Award at the EPA. Das is currently authoring a book on education reform with contributions from Fortune 50 CEOs, Nobel Laureates, U.S. cabinet secretaries, and university presidents.
Das has earned over 40 awards totaling more than $300,000, including the prestigious Goldwater, Udall, and Pearson awards, as well as a Congressional Certificate of Recognition. He has been inducted into the Berkeley Wall of Fame alongside Aaron Rodgers, Gregory Peck and Steve Wozniak. Das has served on advisory boards to State Farm, City of New Berlin, DoSomething.org, and the IJSA journal editorial board. Das has been featured in over 100 media outlets around the world including the SF Chronicle, ABC, and Times of India. During his free time, Das writes poetry, which he has published in the Namjai anthology and in his book, Silent Moon.
Rochester Institute of Technology
University of Arizona
Elena Georgieva, originally from Sofia, Bulgaria, is a recent graduate from Wesleyan University, with a triple major in Chemistry, Dance, and Molecular Biology. Along with pursuing her life-long interest in the natural sciences, she looked forward to expanding on her high-school hobbies such as dance, outreach, and teaching while at Wesleyan. At Wesleyan, she culminated these interests with a milestone interdisciplinary thesis endeavor, Science Choreography, by studying the interactions between science and dance in the fields of education, research, and performance.
Her work was presented at the Harvard Undergraduate Research Conference this January (2013), and it is now gaining a growing interest around the world. Elena is very glad to share her research with other ASBMB and UAN members. With this, Elena hopes to inspire her peers to pursue even their most outrageous research interests in a way that goes beyond acquisition of basic knowledge and provides a broader outlook to global issues.
Elena is starting her graduate career at Germany’s Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in their Department of Biomolecular Systems, in conjunction with the Free University of Berlin. Her scientific interests lie in the development of targeted drug delivery and vaccine systems. She is currently working on inhibitor design of an immune cell receptor involved in major viral (e.g. HIV) and bacterial (e.g. H. pylori) infections. She later envisions being involved in an alternative academia-related career that would allow her to express her passion for interdisciplinary art-science work and teaching.
Rochester Institute of Technology
Dana has always had a desire to explore. Science and the arts, such as dancing and painting, fueled this curiosity. Her love of science has expanded over time, compelling her to become involved in scientific extracurricular activities at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. She became involved in St. Mary’s American Chemical Society Student Affiliated Chapter, the Biomolecular Organization of St. Mary’s Students, tutoring, and research. In organic research,she spent a semester working with a senior student to synthesize an iodonium salt intermediate, [Bis(trifluoracetoxy)iodo]benzene. They then used this compound as a precursor to yield the desired iodonium salts of purines or pyrimidines. In biochemistry directed research, she performed various assays on Perilipin 5, a regulatory protein of lipolysis and oxidative metabolism. She decided to continue this research for her St. Mary’s Project, a yearlong undergraduate thesis.
Despite her great respect for researchers, research helped Dana discover that she prefers to directly interact with patients and develop relationships as the process continues. She is proud to say that this fall, she will be attending University of Maryland School of Dentistry. Dentistry, a field that continually broadens both scientifically and socially, will allow her to expand and share her scientific knowledge with patients as well as harness her artistic ability to benefit others.
St. Mary's College of Maryland