Madeleine Clement '24

On the right path
UNH student Madeleine Clement

Madeleine Clement is a biochemistry, molecular and cellular biology major from Amherst, N.H. She received a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) to spend the summer 2022 working with Jingwei Cheng, a professor in the department of molecular, cellular and biomedical sciences, on research titled, “Investigating the Role of JMJ OIC in Cell Pluripotency and Possible Drug Target in Merkel Cell Carcinoma.”

Along with her SURF, Madeleine has received a Hamel Scholarship, Presidential Scholarship and Research Experience and Apprenticeship Program (REAP) grant and is a member of the biological sciences honor society, Phi Sigma.

And here’s a fun fact: if you need a mushroom identified, Madeleine can help out. “If you show me a picture of any mushroom you find, I am pretty sure I can identify it in under a minute,” she says. “I must have at least 10 mycology field guides at home.”

COLSA: Why did you choose UNH?

Madeleine Clement: I chose UNH because the campus is close by but not too close to home, the university rewarded my work in high school, and because I knew that it was an R1 research university. I knew that research was something I really wanted to experience in my undergraduate career, and I heard I could experience it here, which turned out to be true!

I also chose UNH because it’s not overwhelmingly large, but large enough where I could meet new people every day to make my experience here all the more interesting.

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

Madeleine: My major is biochemistry, molecular and cellular biology. This major is challenging but rewarding, nonetheless. Learning about the chemical makeup and interactions of cells is very interesting to me. My favorite part of being a biochemistry major is connecting ideas across different classes, like genetics and general biology, for example. Connecting ideas helps me understand the bigger picture of science and what we are working towards in these fields.

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

Madeleine: I am most proud of receiving my SURF grant this summer. Creating my proposal for SURF was the first time I have ever written a scientific paper that was reviewed critically by board members. At first, it was very hard to explain to other people, let alone people outside of my field, what I was trying to do in my project. I could not explain concepts such as “western blot” or “cell viability” very well since I did not really know what I was trying to do either.

However, I was able to research, write and perfect my proposal and learned how to write a research proposal suitable for all kinds of audiences. When I received my SURF grant, I was so happy that my hard work paid off and that I was on the right path to be a scientist.

COLSA: What are you planning to do after graduation?

Madeleine: I am most likely going to apply for the accelerated biochemistry master's program. After that, I am not sure. I may try to pursue a Ph.D. or become a full-time researcher. I have always wanted to work with stem cells and understand their role in the emerging technology of tissue engineering. I am also interested in Alzheimer's/dementia research so that may be a pathway I would want to pursue as well.

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

Madeleine: For the past year or so, I have been working in Dr. Jingwei Cheng's lab, where we research potential drugs that target Merkel Cell Carcinoma, a rare type of skin cancer. Last year in his lab, I was able to learn pipetting techniques, grow bacteria prepare PCR plates and many other lab protocols as a rising sophomore.

Now as a rising junior, I am working on my own projects. I am testing if the gene JMJD1C is responsible for increased tumor expression within our cell lines. I am testing this by creating my own western blots, cell viability assays and qPCR plates. Learning these laboratory techniques and protocols so early in my professional career has definitely helped me jumpstart achievement of my goals.

COLSA: What do you love most about UNH?

Madeleine: What I love most about UNH is that whenever I ask for help, someone is there to help me. The faculty and staff are very understanding and supportive. I have formed great relationships throughout my two years here. Even the hardest of professors ask if you are doing okay and if you're adjusting well to college. Everywhere I turn, there is always someone to talk to or a resource I can use to get myself back on track.