A student looking into the college of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Science has a diverse opportunity of programs to choose from. Majors are offered for Astronomy, Atmospheric and Oceanic Science, Biology, Cell Biology & Molecular Genetics, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Computer Science, Entomology, Geology, Mathematics, and Physics.
According to the university website, the college is nationally recognized for education and research, many major programs in the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences are ranked among the top 10 public research universities in the nation. The college offers every student a high-quality, innovative and cross-disciplinary educational experience. Strongly committed to making studies in the sciences available to all, the college actively encourages and supports the recruitment and retention of women and minorities.
We spoke to Abigail Horn, a UMD graduate, about her about her experience in the department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Here is what she had to say about her favorite professor, her dream job, and advice to current students.
What program were you in at the University of Maryland and what degree did you graduate with?
I was in the college of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural sciences and I graduated with a B.S. in Biochemistry.
Did you always know that you wanted to major in biochemistry? When did you realize it?
I started college as a chemistry major after taking honors chemistry and AP chemistry in high school. I switched to biochemistry in my sophomore year after taking general biology and genetics and really enjoying them.
What was your favorite class at UMD and why?
I would probably say my favorite class was BSCI437, virology with Dr. John Dinman. The material was amazing and the professor was extremely engaging, I enjoyed every lecture because each one was like a story. I took that class my first semester of senior year and since I was a senior I appreciated that the grading was really reasonable and it was pretty straightforward to get an A just by coming to class, studying decently hard, and doing the extra credit assignments.
Who was your favorite professor at UMD and why?
Even though I never had him for class, my favorite UMD professor was Dr. Phil DeShong in chemistry. He was my undergraduate research adviser from freshman to senior year as well as my academic adviser. Since UMD is such a big school, I didn’t have one on one interaction with that many of my professors. As my adviser both in the lab and for academics, I got to interact with Dr. DeShong more often and learn from him about scientific research. He shaped my research career as an undergraduate, guided my through my writing and defending my undergraduate honors thesis, and helped me immensely through the graduate school application process. I also heard from many of my classmates that he is an excellent organic chemistry professor.
Did you have an internship or job in your field while you were in school? If so, where?
I worked at UMD as an undergraduate researcher from spring 2009 to spring 2012. During the school years I worked part-time hours and was funded through an HHMI undergraduate research grant. For the summer of 2011 I was funded as a full-time researcher through a program called Maryland Summer Scholars.
I took one summer off (summer 2010) from my campus research lab and had a full-time internship in the Biologics and Biotechnology lab at the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) in Rockville, MD. During my senior year (Sept 2011 to May 2012) I had a part-time internship at Gryphon Scientific as a research intern in Takoma Park, MD.
What is your current job?
I am currently a biochemistry PhD student at CU Boulder. I start my 5th year in August with a projected graduate date of either fall 2017 or spring 2018.
What is your dream job and why?
I would eventually like to be a research scientist at a small biotech startup company. I love doing research and being in the lab, primarily because I enjoy working with my hands and not sitting at a computer for the majority of my day. I like that at a startup I would have a greater role in the direction of the company than if I worked at a large corporation. I feel that startup companies typically employ passionate individuals who enjoy what they are doing, and that is the atmosphere that I would like to be in as a long-term job. Also, I would enjoy mentoring new scientists in the lab and helping to steer the direction of the projects we are working on.
Do you have any advice for biochem students at UMD?
I would definitely recommend starting undergraduate research early. I started as a freshman and I was grateful later on that I had enough data to proceed with an undergraduate honors thesis. Research also showed me a different side of science than my classes, and I realized early on in my research career that I wanted to pursue a PhD instead of an MD, which I had entered college planning to do. I would also recommend pursuing internships and networking outside of UMD because I felt like my experiences in the local biotech sector really helped me be a more well-rounded applicant for graduate school.
Here is a brief summary of what you need to complete an undergraduate degree in biochemistry:
General Education Requirements (27-39 cr.)
Lower Level CHEM required for Biochem majors (18 cr.)
Supporting Courses (12-17 cr.)
Supporting Courses – Choose one physics sequence (7-8 cr.)
Required Upper Level CHEM/BCHM Courses (25 cr.)
Take one BSCI Course (3-4 cr.)
Take one Upper Level BSCI Course (3-4 cr.)
A minimum of 120 credits earned and a 2.0 cumulative GPA is needed to meet University
Graduation requirements. Major courses require a “C+“ or better in each and a 2.0 average GPA.
Students who major in biochemistry can explore careers in science, healthcare, research, and teaching as well as pursue higher degrees in science.