Physical and Life Sciences Day featured students

Today is Physical and Life Sciences Day for LAS Week! Meet some of the outstanding students majoring in areas of physical and life sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and learn about their student experiences.


Courtney Smith

Major
Genetics

Minor
Psychology

I love my major because . . .
"We are a really tight-knit community. We take care of each other and have a strong support system. It's really nice to have that support in such a competitive field."

Best lesson learned during an internship
"My internships taught me that I am on the right path. I rushed to work every day and never wanted to leave at night. This reinforced my career goals and gave me the confidence that research is for me."

Advice to future genetics majors
"Join Stupka. Do it. Stupka is known as a biochemistry-run club, but it's all about building a research community. They really are a family and I am so lucky to be a part of it."

Proudest moment at ISU
"Winning the Goldwater Scholarship, hands down. I love doing research and put so much time and effort into it. It was so great to be recognized for all my hard work. The experience was magnified because all four ISU students won that year, which made us proud to be Cyclones."

If you had an extra hour in the day, what would you do with it?
"I would drink more tea. I love tea. Drinking tea is so soothing and it really gives me time to reflect on the day."


Kaitlyn Murphy

Major
Biology

Minor
Animal Ecology

Most memorable ISU experience so far
"During my freshman year, I lived on the honors floor in Larch Hall. Our self-designated study area was in the hallway between the elevators. My most memorable experiences were spent there on the floor, talking and studying almost every night, with some of my first best friends at Iowa State."

When I came to ISU, I never thought I would . . .
Spend a summer living and researching wildlife in East Africa!"

How a professor has supported me
"As a high school student, I had the opportunity to gain research experience through Dr. Fredric Janzen's lab at Iowa State. I joined his lab full-time during my first semester and joined Dr. Matthew Brewer's lab that following spring. Without the skills I developed and encouragement I received from those experiences, I would not be the aspiring researcher I am today."

I would encourage other students to check out opportunities outside the classroom like . . .
"Coaching. My outlet from the stress of everyday life has been through coaching three youth volleyball teams within the Ames community. It is very rewarding to see the progress kids make throughout the season and to know that your role is making an impact."

Advice to future biology majors
"Challenge yourself academically, but remember to spend time with other people that are important to you. Get coffee with a friend, call your grandma more often, and thank your professors now and then. Always keep in mind that your eight-year-old self would think you're super cool."


Alex Karnish

Major
Biology

Minor
Animal Ecology

I love my major because . . .
"I love my major because there are so many paths you can take within it. The program is really broad and allows people to craft their own plan based off of their interests."

Favorite course so far in my major
"Plant systematics! The lab was really hands on and I learned a lot of practical skills! Also, I love plants so it was just fun in general!"

Best lesson learned during an internship
"Working for The Iowa Nature Conservancy doing land management work two summers ago and up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan doing vegetation surveys this past summer taught me what it is like living and working in the field. Through those experiences I learned how to live with a small group of people in isolated conditions for long periods of time, which is a valuable skill when it comes to acquiring field jobs."

I would encourage other students to check out opportunities outside the classroom like . . .
"Coaching. My outlet from the stress of everyday life has been through coaching three youth volleyball teams within the Ames community. It is very rewarding to see the progress kids make throughout the season and to know that your role is making an impact."

Advice to future biology majors
"Don't be afraid to learn applied skills that might seem a little too niche. For example, I learned how to identify plants in Plant Systematics and that skill set got me my job last summer and I had a ton of fun! I've been told repeatedly that knowing plant identification means you'll never be out of a job and I believe it. So don't be afraid to learn how to identify animals (especially invertebrates) and plants because people with those skills are always in demand!"

If you had an extra hour in the day, what would you do with it?
"I'd cook better food and take a bath."


Ihssan Ait Boucherbil

Major
Chemistry

Minor
Political Science

I love my major because . . .
"Chemistry is a very diverse field and major with endless learning opportunities so it allows me to choose from multiple career paths! The possibilities are endless!"

Most memorable ISU experience so far
"Being a Cyclone Aide and representative for the university this summer was one of the best experiences I have ever had! I got extremely close to my fellow Cyclone Aides and was able to make lifelong friendships while also doing something I love and helping the new incoming students get to love ISU as much as I do!"

When I came to ISU, I never thought I would . . .
"Join a sorority! Lambda Theta Nu Sorority, Inc. has been my home away from home and has given me a support system that I have always been searching for while also giving me unconditional love!"

How an adviser has supported me
"My chemistry advisor, Terry Kruse, has given me endless support and life advice whenever I talk to him! He always reminds me that life will go on when I am having a mid-semester crisis!"

Best lesson learned during an internship
"Your employer can always teach you the technical background of the job: you need to make sure that you have the right attitude to learn and work together with other people from different backgrounds!"


Rachel Dank

Major
Geology

I love my major because . . .
"Geology is not just a career path to me, it is my passion. I love the work, I love the people, I love the knowledge and I love the purpose it has created for my life. This is something that I have loved since I was a little girl. My grandpa always said, 'Find something that you love to do and you will never work a day in your life.' And that is what I have done! With the help of the Geology department at Iowa State I have been able to turn my hobby into my livelihood!"

How my professors have supported me:
"All of my professors are amazing! It is an experience you can't really describe to anyone and have them truly understand unless they have experienced it themselves. To be surrounded by so many intelligent, accomplished, like-minded people is such an inspiration. Then to have them believe in you and encourage you is the greatest motivator of all! I really couldn't chose just one professor from our department because they are all equally incredible!"

Best lesson learned during an internship
"Don't be afraid to speak up, ask questions, introduce yourself, break out of your shell (if you have one)! Each person you meet in your internship is a learning resource. Conduct an experiment while you're there without anyone knowing and see how much industry information you can gather. No one is going to care more about the amount of take away that you get from the experience than you, so be bold!"

Advice to future Geology majors
"Your professors are hidden gems who are your greatest allies! Take the time to get to know them, stop by their offices, and build relationships with them that will make you stand out among the crowd. If you are an introvert, STOP! No one is going to fight harder for your success than you, but the more people on your team the more likely you are to succeed. The value of having individuals of integrity, accomplishment, and potential influence within your chosen career is priceless. Use this time to build professional relationships and contacts. Networking is one of the most important assignments you can complete while finishing school."