Chapter president inspired
by mother’s diagnosis

Published December 01 2018

Amanda Duplan, a senior at Grand View University, plans to pursue a Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology with an interest in immunotherapy.COURTESY OF AMANDA DUPLAN When she learned that her mother had been diagnosed with colon cancer, Amanda Duplan changed her plans. Duplan was a freshman at Grand View University in Iowa, more than 1,700 miles from her family home in Sacramento, California, when she got the news three years ago.

“Instead of getting depressed, I’ve been inspired to help others going through similar situations,” she said.

Duplan has always loved science, she said, but her mother’s diagnosis inspired her to get involved in research. Duplan started her freshman year on a premed track, but she found that her true passion was to study the underlying cause of disease.

Her undergraduate research focuses on engineering a PETase that will break down PET plastic more efficiently. Bonnie Hall, an assistant professor of chemistry, has played a major role in Duplan’s education at Grand View. Duplan started her research in Hall’s lab during her sophomore year, and Hall chose Duplan to work with her at the University of Iowa during a research fellowship last summer.

“She has been great at helping me through the bad times,” Duplan said of Hall. “She is an amazing person and an amazing professor.”

Hall also had a role in the founding of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Student Chapter at Grand View. Hall first learned about Student Chapters at an ASBMB annual meeting. She brought the idea back to campus and started the chapter with the help of Duplan and other students. She serves as the faculty adviser for the chapter.

Related stories

Chapter leader finds his niche
Jacob Crosser started college thinking he wanted to study engineering, then he discovered biochemistry.

Chapter president works to build community
Kelly Budge founded an ASBMB chapter for undergraduates to connect biology and chemistry students across the Goucher College campus.

Sparking the flame of science
Supported by an ASBMB outreach grant, Salisbury University students guide children through activities in biology — even making necklaces out of DNA.

This year, Duplan became the chapter president. She has worked to encourage involvement in the chapter by planning fun events such as a liquid nitrogen ice cream social. Duplan had wanted to make ice cream ever since she discovered the liquid nitrogen used for NMR experiments on campus. Chapter members worked as a team and invited fellow students to participate.

The chapter continues to grow, and science outreach is a major focus, Duplan said. “I like having a common goal of doing something for other people.”

Duplan also serves as her chapter’s student mentor for the Connect Researchers, Educators and Students, or CREST, group. Her group will design a physical model of a protein and present it at the ASBMB annual meeting in Orlando.

Duplan’s experience as chapter president has helped her become a better organizer and delegator, she said. She has strengthened her leadership skills by serving as a peer leader for science classes, a senior research mentor and the captain of the women’s bowling team. Her optimism and determination in the face of challenges have been instrumental to her success at Grand View.

Duplan’s mother is receiving treatment and continues her fight against cancer. “I’ve had to deal with many setbacks, but my family has encouraged me to keep going,” Duplan said.

Duplan will graduate from Grand View in May. She plans to apply for postbaccalaureate programs before entering a Ph.D. program in biochemistry and molecular biology with an interest in immunotherapy. Her goal is to be a professor so she can teach young scientists and do research.

Kerri Beth Slaughter Kerri Beth Slaughter is a graduate student in the biochemistry department at the University of Kentucky. Follow her on Twitter.