Emily Pratt '23, '24G

A Legacy Blazes Her Own Path
UNH biochemistry, molecular and cellular biology major Emily Pratt

It’s no surprise that Emily Pratt ’23, ’24G describes herself as a competitive person. Along with a history of competing on the soccer field, in the swimming pool and as part of her school band, the biochemistry, molecular and cellular biology major from Beverly, MA has also distinguished herself at UNH by winning both a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship and, most recently, the prestigious and coveted Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship.

COLSA: Why did you choose UNH?

Emily Pratt: I chose UNH because of the many opportunities available to me through COLSA and the Hamel Center for Undergraduate Research. As a high school senior, I knew I was interested in research and of all the schools I applied to, UNH was the only one that highlighted its undergraduate research programs. I was also interested in the possibility of earning two degrees in five years through the Accelerated Master's Program.

My mom graduated from the UNH College of Engineering and Physical Sciences in 1991, and I have many relatives that go to UNH now. Seeing how much my mom loves UNH and how excited my cousins were to show me the campus also played a big part in my decision to come here.

COLSA: What's your major and what makes it so interesting to you?

Emily: My major is biochemistry, molecular and cellular biology. It's the study of how biological molecules interact with each other and what effects they have on the human body. I've found it to be incredibly interdisciplinary as I have had to pull information from my organic chemistry classes, cell biology class and molecular genetics class to develop a full understanding of biochemistry. BMCB is really the intersection of multiple disciplines, and I enjoy learning about how they are all connected.

COLSA: During your time at UNH, what are you most proud of?

Emily: I am most proud of my research project in Dr. Sarah Walker's Lab. I'm working on repurposing drugs for triple negative breast cancer, which is the most aggressive subtype of breast cancer and is typically chemoresistant. Although I've only been working in her lab for a little under a year, I've learned a lot and seen my project come from bioinformatic searches for potential drugs to actually testing these drugs in cancer cells.

To me, the most important part of this project is knowing that it has the potential to help future studies, and much further down the line, help cancer patients. A lot of people in my life have cancer, and I've recently lost one of them. When an experiment doesn't work or I don't get the data I wanted, I think of them and how proud they are of me. I hope I have the opportunity to continue working in cancer throughout my graduate education so I can help people like those close to me.

COLSA: What are you planning to do after graduation?

Emily: After graduation in 2023, I will be a full-time graduate student at UNH. I was recently accepted to the Accelerated Master's Program and will continue my work in Dr. Walker's Lab while completing a master's in biochemistry. I plan to pursue a PhD in pharmacology after my time at UNH and continue working in drug discovery research. Eventually, I want to be a college professor to teach cancer biology at a research university.

COLSA: How is UNH preparing you to achieve your goals?

Emily: UNH offers many resources that have a played a role in my success thus far. The Hamel Center for Undergraduate Research made it possible for me to begin an independent research project through a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, and I have continued my work by enrolling in the variable credit courses INCO 590 and INCO 790. These courses are titled Student Research Experience and Advanced Research Experience, respectively.

I applied for a STEM scholarship through the Office of National Fellowships, which I was awarded this semester. Ms. Jeanne Sokolowski, Director of the Office of National Fellowships, supported me throughout the application process by reading and revising my essay drafts, and answering all of my questions. Her knowledge and expertise in scholarship and fellowship applications is important to any student who wants to put together a competitive application. My recent scholarship award opens up new opportunities for graduate school and is an important step to achieving my career goals.

COLSA: What do you love most about UNH?

Emily: I love the location. I grew up very close to the ocean and can't imagine living far from the coast. UNH is also right between my two favorite places: home and Wolfeboro, NH on Lake Winnipesaukee. In under an hour, I can be home with my family or spending a day at the lake!

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