Alumni and Careers

Alumni Profile of Jacob Muscato 2016

Jacob Muscato ’`19

Major: Biochemistry

Location: Brunswick, Maine

Most memorable biochemistry class: Chemical biology with Danielle Dube

"[Biochemistry is] not quite interdisciplinary because it's really one discipline, but it sits at the intersection. You can take what you enjoy from both of these fields and apply them together. "

What have you been up to since graduating from Bowdoin?

I graduated from Bowdoin in the spring of 2016, and enrolled at Harvard for its PhD program in chemical biology. I was there for six years, and I just defended my thesis this May. A couple of days after I defended my thesis, I saw the job listing for a visiting assistant professor in Bowdoin's biology apartment. I had to apply, and now I'll be starting in the fall of 2022.

Why biochemistry?

Biochemistry is one of the disciplines that focuses on the smallest molecular level. We can zoom in and see what's happening at the tiny microscopic scale, and then zoom out and see what those those effects are for human health and disease, or for other really important things. When people come to college, they often have had some biology, or maybe they've had some chemistry, so we can then start to synthesize those two and talk about them together. Biochemisty sits at the intersection. You can take what you enjoy from both of these fields and apply them together. I also was drawn to being in a lab and doing the experiments—I love doing the work of mixing things together and seeing what happens! You can go so many directions with biochemistry—you can study study how plants grow or how pathogens cause disease. It's a discipline that touches on so much.

Alumni profile of Jared Feldman, Class of 2016

Jared Feldman ’16

Major(s): Biochemistry

Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Most memorable biochemistry class: Chemical biology with Danielle Dube

"For me, the most enriching part of my Bowdoin education was the research that I did and the summers that I spent working full-time in the lab. I think it's essential to dive in and engage, whether it's through an honors project or independent study."

What have you been up to since graduating Bowdoin?

After graduating, I moved to to Hanover, New Hampshire, where I worked for two years as a pre-doctoral researcher at a small biotech company. I had a super positive and industrial research experience and gained some exposure into what you can do with a PhD beyond academia. However, in order to get there, I needed to go back to school. Four years ago, I started my PhD at Harvard in virology before the entire world was thinking about viruses due to COVID. I'm now rounding up my fourth year. I work in Aaron Schmitz's lab, who's a faculty member at Harvard. And our lab specifically is at the Reagan Institute, which is in Cambridge and is actually home to a decent number of Bowdoin graduates who come and work here as research associates after college. I think there's four of us on my floor, actually, which is pretty awesome. Our lab studies the way that B cells recognize viral antigens. The idea is that, by studying the initial interaction and understanding how these cells and antibodies that come from the nose can potentially block that interaction, we can start to leverage that information in order to make more effective vaccine constructs. 

Why biochemistry?

I stepped into Bowdoin my first year with the intention of being a biochemistry major. I had some early exposure before Bowdoin and knew that this was something that I really enjoyed, but I intentionally broadened the scope of the classes that I took freshman year. I was quickly reminded, based on the structure of the classes, the interactions that I had with faculty and the ability to kind of get my hands wet in the lab, why my intention was to study biochemistry. Those classes were revalidating and stood out to me in terms of the way that I think about the world—very mechanistically—and I appreciated it. For me, the most enriching part of my Bowdoin education was the research that I did and the summers that I spent working full-time in the lab. I think it's essential to dive in and engage, whether it's through an honors project or independent study. The ability to be mentored by professors is unique and something worth pursuing.

Alumni profile of Baer Karrington, Class of 2015

Baer Karrington ’15

Major: Biochemistry

Minor: Theater

Location: Seattle, Washington

Most memorable biochemistry course: Chemical biology with Danielle Dube

"Biochemistry was a great way to start framing medicine and thinking about how we approach medical problems, and even treatments."

What have you been up to since graduating from Bowdoin?

After Bowdoin, I did a Fulbright in Germany, where I worked in a basic science lab. I went to med school in New York City, at NYU, and got my master's in public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Now I'm a pediatric second-year resident at the University of Washington. My research focuses mainly on ways to support trans youth.

Why neuroscience?

I really liked neural pathways and I really liked thinking about how one thing links with another, and biochemistry was a perfect mix of biology and chemistry—it really focuses on the connections between different biological systems, as well as different happenings within the body. It was a great way to start framing medicine and thinking about how we approach medical problems, and even treatments. Doing research with Danielle Dube was a huge part of it as well—just learning those research skills was so helpful, even though I don't work in basic sciences anymore. Those research skills that I learned with her have been the foundation for my being able to transition to qualitative research, and it's been really, really exciting.

Alumni profile of Jen Helble, Class of 2014

Jennifer Helble ’14

Major: Biochemistry

Location: Boston, Massachusetts

Most memorable biochemistry class: The Biochemistry class that I found most memorable was Chemical Biology with Danielle Dube

"While I no longer consider myself a biochemist, a lot of what I learned as a student at Bowdoin set me on my path to pursuing my PhD in Immunology and to where I am now!"

What have you been up to since graduating from Bowdoin?

After graduating from Bowdoin, I moved to Boston to get my PhD in Immunology at Harvard. There, I joined Dr. Michael Starnbach's lab, where I studied antigen-specific T cell responses to the bacterial pathogen Chlamydia trachomatis. As a part of my dissertation, I thought a lot about how we can harness aspects of the T cell response to generate protection against infection and how we can use these responses to think about vaccine design. I defended my dissertation in January 2020 and shortly thereafter, I joined the lab of Dr. Linden Hu at Tufts as a Postdoctoral Scholar. I am still in Dr. Hu's lab at Tufts, where I'm studying T cell exhaustion within the context of Borrelia burgdorferi infection, the causative agent of Lyme disease. By studying these T cell exhaustion pathways, which typically arise in the context of cancer, we can start to understand how Borrelia can survive in its mammalian hosts for long periods of time.

Why Biochemistry?

I chose to major in Biochemistry at Bowdoin because I loved both my Chemistry and Biology classes, and the Biochemistry major seemed like an excellent way to join those interests. As I said above, one of the most formative experiences at Bowdoin was conducting independent research as an honors student my senior year. I loved being in the lab, designing and conducting experiments to answer my hypotheses. While I no longer consider myself a biochemist, a lot of what I learned as a student at Bowdoin set me on my path to pursuing my PhD in Immunology and to where I am now!

Ben Stranges

Benjamin Stranges

Class of: 2005

Major(s): Biochemistry

Peter Benjamin Stranges (Ben) is a postdoctoral research fellow in Genetics at Harvard Medical School where he studies genome engineering and synthetic biology.

About

Ben was a Doherty Fellow at Bowdoin Summer 2004, and conducted senior honors research during the 2004-2005 academic year. Ben explored the mathematical possibilities of modeling von Bertalanffy growth in sea urchins with a variable exponent that relied on oxygen transport through boundary layers under the guidance of Professor Amy Johnson and Research Associate in Mathematics and Biology Olaf Ellers.

Ben completed a Bowdoin Honors Project titled: Boundary layer fluid dynamics effects on oxygen metabolism and growth rates in green sea urchins, Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis.