Chapter president’s hard work pays off

Published August 01 2019

Anna Fiedler In addition to her love of science, Anna Fiedler has a passion for the Spanish language and culture, sparked when she was a child living in Beaumont, Texas. “If you drove down a street in my town, you would find a lot of people who didn’t speak English as a first language,” she said. Her study abroad experience in Spain and her Spanish language and culture classes have helped her communicate better with students from different backgrounds.COURTESY OF ANNA FIEDLER When Anna Fiedler is faced with a new challenge, such as hosting a regional research conference, she sees it as an opportunity to learn and grow. In fact, she thrives on paving the way to help others succeed.

“Because I did something first, someone down the line can benefit from it,” she said.

Fiedler is a founding member of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Student Chapter at the University of Texas at Dallas. Noting her work ethic, her fellow members selected her in 2018 as chapter president. Under the previous president, the group had applied for the ASBMB Student Chapters Regional Meeting Award; with Fiedler at the helm, they used the funds to host a research conference for students from seven universities in Texas.

Planning the regional conference was a learning experience. To prepare, Fiedler and fellow chapter members reviewed student abstracts, advertised on campus and invited guest speakers. They also coordinated a career exploration panel with a faculty member, a chemistry graduate student and a medical school student to offer their perspectives about careers in science. Undergraduates can be intimidated by scientists, Fiedler noted, but the relaxed environment of the panel led to an open and honest conversation between the attendees and panelists.

She also had to deal with a few minor problems, such as running out of name tags and posters falling off the walls.

“You can’t always predict what will happen,” she said, “but you can learn how to have poise in those situations.”

The conference’s top three student presenters, including one from Fiedler’s chapter, won travel awards to attend the ASBMB annual meeting in Orlando, Florida. Fiedler also attended the annual meeting with the help of an ASBMB Student Chapter Travel Award and a local travel grant she received for her undergraduate research.

At one of the booths in Orlando, Fiedler, who aspires to a career in medicine, was thrilled to test a virtual reality headset that models anatomy dissections. During the meeting, she also presented her work testing properties of organic polypropylene mesh, specifically how E. coli interact with the mesh, resulting in oxidative degradation.

After she graduates from UT–Dallas in spring 2020, Fiedler hopes to attend medical school. She is excited to take on the challenge of working with patients to improve their quality of life.

“No one wants to have surgery done,” she said, “but you get to see such a radical difference in the patient’s life after surgery.”

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