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Following a three-week course her junior year in the rainforest of Belize, Sarah Newman knew that science was her career calling. "I was taken completely out of my comfort zone and literally dropped into the jungle to do research and field work,"
Newman said. "I loved every minute of it. That motivated me to get serious about graduate school."
In addition, Newman spent two summers in the Lakeland Undergraduate Research Experiences program, an intense Student as Practitioner program that pays students a stipend to conduct original research alongside a faculty member. Her research centered on the study of prions, self-aggregating proteins which are responsible for a variety of diseases including Creutzfeld-Jacob's disease (CJD) in humans, Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) "mad cow" in cows and Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in deer and elk. She analyzed prion proteins from two different species of yeast and created chimeric protein. She then tested their ability to cause or prevent protein aggregation in each species. She presented her findings regionally and nationally.
Newman also participated in the college's Honors Program, and her project combined her two passions: she focused on the prevention of performance injuries in instrumentalists by creating a brochure that educates instrumental music students about the causes and preventions of performance injuries.
Greg Smith, associate professor of biology, said Newman took full advantage of Lakeland's applied liberal arts curriculum. "I have had a handful of students with similar levels of innate intelligence and I have had several students who showed similar dedication to their studies, but Sarah is the best combination of ability and effort I have encountered," Smith said. "Sarah is a superb writer, precisely and concisely conveying scientific concepts and showing a depth of understanding which is truly uncanny in an undergraduate student."
This fall, she will begin the Ph.D. program in cell and molecular biology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.