At Emmanuel, Darren was able explore many interests—in chemistry, interning at Pfizer and conducting research side-by-side with a faculty member, and in performing arts, starring in and directing College productions.
Off-campus internships and on-campus research experiences give students a glimpse of potential career paths, while also giving them a leg up when applying for jobs and graduate programs. Chemistry major Darren took on both opportunities to develop an informed outlook about his path after graduation.
In summer 2014, he secured an internship with pharmaceutical company Pfizer, working with their biophysical research group in the analytical research and development division of their campus in North Andover, Massachusetts. He brought the industry experience back to campus and began working alongside Associate Professor of Chemistry Aren Gerdon and other undergraduate researchers in the summer of 2015. Research in Emmanuel's Maureen Murphy Wilkens Science Center allowed Darren to immediately apply the skills he learned at Pfizer and the knowledge he built in courses such as Analytical Chemistry, Instrumental Analysis and Biochemistry, to the real-world experiments and studies being done by the Gerdon Research Group.
"I think that doing this research has really helped me to think analytically about the experiments that I am doing," Darren said. His research allowed him to spend an extended period of time designing his own experiments while working on a project one-on-one with his advisor. "I've been able to learn so much just from designing my own experiments at Emmanuel and being able to make my own mistakes in the lab," Darren said.
The focus of his team's research was the synthesis of hydroxyapatite, one of the molecules essential to the formation of bones and teeth. Specifically, Darren focused on using gold nanoparticles to enhance the mineralization of hydroxyapatite. The research team was comprised of seven students, Darren included, and Dr. Gerdon, who Darren enjoyed working side-by-side with in the lab.
"He is so knowledgeable and getting to work with him and discuss his research has been really cool," Darren said of Dr. Gerdon. "Working on campus over the summer, I have been able to make so many friends within the chemistry department, and being able to work in such a friendly environment was a ton of fun."
Before graduating, Darren was looking into Master of Education programs with the hope of teaching high school chemistry and theater in Boston (Darren starred in the performing arts department's production of "Xanadu" spring 2015 and directed fall 2014's "Night of the Living Dead").
Darren said he would be interested in earning his Ph.D. in biochemistry to become a professor. He credits his time spent in research labs on and off campus with giving him the building blocks to launch his career interests.
"I believe having this knowledge will be incredibly helpful in being able to relate what I teach in the real world," he said. "Doing research is something that I recommend to anyone within any area of study. It's such a great opportunity and can teach you so much. Just talk to your professor, and they will be able to get you on the right track to finding research and internship opportunities."
Interested in Chemistry?
At Emmanuel, we believe that practicing chemistry opens the mind to critical thinking and problem solving. Our students collaborate with faculty on real-life research and are offered unmatched opportunities to engage in the subject through our Maureen Murphy Wilkens Science Center, collaboration with Merck Research Laboratories-Boston and location in the Longwood Medical and Academic Area.