Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Bioscience symposium at Amherst College defines students’ paths toward achieving medical, biological and health care careers

Amherst College science fair offers a multitude of opportunities

(courtesy of the Amherst College facebook page)

(courtesy of the Amherst College facebook page)

(courtesy of the Amherst College facebook page)

By Lily Harrington and Andrea Hanley

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On Thursday, students, alumni, faculty and members of the Amherst community gathered in Converse Hall at Amherst College for the 10th annual Fink Bioscience Symposium.

Established in 2009 in honor of Doctor Gerald R. Fink, a 1962 Amherst College alumnus as well as a founding member and former director of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, the symposium encourages students of the Amherst community to gain exposure to members who have flourished in the fields of bioscience, healthcare and medicine. Over the 10-year period, the symposium has had upward of 1,100 attendees from Amherst and beyond.

The symposium consisted of four segments of informative discourse with eight informants. The panel was mainly composed of Amherst College alumni ranging from the class of 1962 to as recent as 2017.

George W. Carmany III, a 1962 Amherst College alumnus and member of the advisory council at Harvard Medical School, opened the conference with nostalgic anecdotes and a bit of bioscience humor, followed by generous introductions of the board of informed speakers.

“[It’s about] treating populations, rather than treating patients…[for] access to more healthcare in the future,” he said.

Niyi Odewade of the class of 2017 then spoke of his endeavors as an undergraduate student at Amherst College. His journey not only included his research at Tufts University on the heart condition hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, but also his contributions toward the Amherst community. His involvement varied from his work with the Kidney Disease Screening and Awareness Program—a program Odewade introduced to Amherst College—to his football career at the school.

Odewade discussed the knowledge he gained from experience with summer internships that “cemented and solidified my decision to continue my path in health care.”

For the remainder of the year, Odewade will continue with his research in hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, carry on with work in Kidney Disease Screening and Awareness Program National Policy Committee and begin his application process for medical school.

Another featured speaker, Emily Jackson of the class of 2013, provided additional enlightening insight for the eager minds that sat before her. Jackson originally intended to major in English at Amherst College, but during her first years, explored the vast options offered by the school and developed a profound love for biology. She is currently a PhD student in genomics at M.I.T.

Jackson began with a story of how she first became involved with the later generations at the conventions: What at the time appeared to be a redundant conversation about the PVTA system with a keynote speaker at the symposium four years prior, became a pivotal advance in her career.

“If you’re not a smooth talker, I encourage you to talk to people, and good things can still come out it,” Jackson said.

Lily Harrington can be reached at [email protected] and Andrea Hanley can be reached at [email protected].

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