Pursuing a Career in Science
Kristen Kelley ’20 spent her summer at the Vanderbilt Summer Science Academy’s Promoting Academic Excellence with Community Engagement and Reach Multicultural Scholars (PAECERS) program. Working in the Division of Allergy, Pulmonary, and Critical Care Medicine, she served as a research intern in a lab focused on studying inflammation as an intermediate mechanism of most chronic and acute diseases or mediators of diseases. Her lab utilized cell-penetrating nuclear modifier peptides to reduce damaging effects of endotoxins and other damaging stimuli on internal organs. Her major duties were to perform high quality nuclear fraction analyses to properly track which pro-inflammatory transcription factors and nuclear proteins helping transcription were present in nuclear extracts. She completed cell- culturing, immunoblotting, separation, and statistical analysis.
Kristen is most proud of developing and leading her own research project and taking on the challenge of working independently. Through this experience, she learned that preparation, perseverance, and time- management skills were essential for the overall success of the project.
A biology major and neuroscience minor, Kristen’s career goal is to become a physician and conduct research on sickle-cell anemia and cancer. She is also interested in female reproductive health. “I want to have a significant impact on healthcare through discovery, clinical research, practice, and awareness.” She says her lab experience this summer validated her plans to pursue a career in medicine and research, and she gained a new understanding of the details aligned with being a physician scientist.
Kristen’s mother, Michele Murchison Kelley ’80, led Kristen to study at The Oldest and Best. “My mom often talked about how fortunate she was to have been exposed to a strong support system of diverse and dynamic women. The friendships and bonds she made with her classmates still exist today. Ultimately, I chose Wesleyan College because of her reputation for being a great women’s liberal arts institution and for the strong commitment to sisterhood. Wesleyan’s Munroe Science Center was also a huge draw. It showed the College’s commitment to women in science and provided an opportunity for me to perform research in a state-of-the-art facility.”
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Chartered in 1836, Wesleyan became the first college in the world chartered to grant degrees to women. Since then, we’ve sent scores of women out into the world to do the impossible, the amazing, and the extraordinary, like the first woman to receive a Doctor of Medicine degree in Georgia and the first woman to argue a case before the Georgia Supreme Court.