Hi there! My name is Jenny and I'm a senior at Dartmouth studying biology and quantitative social science. On campus, I also work as a communications intern for the Admissions Office, tutor local high school students through Health Access for All, and mentor freshmen in the Great Issues Scholars LLC. My hobbies include reading (especially dystopian and historical fiction) and embroidering, which I only recently picked up. I hope you enjoy my blog!
I looked forward to this class every week, partly because of the professor and partly due to the content. We read books on a wide variety of topics, ranging from privilege and how it affects our interactions with others to restaurant kitchens and the hierarchies inherent in surgical residencies.
Biol13 is structured so that you have to work as a group on difficult class problems and even on some exams, which was novel to me and pushed me to really understand the material. This class inspired me to pursue research (both off-campus and on-campus) related to genetics.
Although this class was daunting to me in the beginning, given that I had little to no experience in either Women's, Gender, and Sexuality or Art History, it was also one of the classes in which I became the most engaged in. For our final project, I investigated the history of allegories in Western art and why they were so often portrayed as women.
I interned at Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, MA under Dr. Livingston. I explored the mechanism by which BRCA1 acts as a tumor suppressor. It was really rewarding to be able to apply what I had learned in Biol13, including specific procedures and techniques we had been tested on, to a real-life laboratory setting.
This class is notorious for its difficulty, and I would not call it an easy class. Nonetheless, it was my favorite class because I loved Professor Jacobi, who has taught at Dartmouth for 22 years, and I appreciated learning mechanisms behind why certain reactions happen. Instead of rote memorization, this class relied on being able to predict the products of a reaction, a skill picked up from lots of practice.
Although this was an introductory class, Professor Craig made it more dynamic and interactive, with several visits to the Hood Museum of Art, ethnography labs, and weekly discussion posts. I learned about everything from the Gebusi culture and their rites of passage to the opioid epidemic. For my final paper, I conducted an ethnography studying the social dynamics that take place in Baker Lobby and how that relates to the exchange of capital.
Though I had taken four years of computer science before (mostly in middle school), I did not have a very good experience with coding prior to taking CS1. However, the professor was one of the best professors I have had, explaining jargon in understandable ways and even giving out chocolate bars to students who answered the most difficult questions she would ask in class. I was certain that there was no way I would be able to create the lab assignments (such as a revolving solar system animation and map of Dartmouth that calculated the shortest possible route between two points), but she enabled all of us to through exercises, short assignments, and exams.
I took this class for a distributive requirement and ended up loving it. Each student was assigned a day to present on a certain topic - mine being patriarchy. I decided to analyze relationships in Crazy Rich Asians through a lens of the patriarchal bargain. We explored transgender issues, the history of feminism, gender identity, and so much more. Would highly recommend!
As someone who didn't know the rules to pretty much any sport, I tentatively signed up for this class. However, the professors made it clear that everyone had a different sports background, so I never felt at a disadvantage. We used Markov chains to predict winners of tennis matches, analyzed field goals kicks using logit models, and listened to guest speakers from a variety of industries.
I spent the winter at the Fogarty International Center of the National Institutes of Health, studying epidemiology and global health. I was first involved on a project using data surveillance and social media to model Ebola outbreaks in the DRC, but as soon as the COVID-19 outbreak started, I transitioned to that. I was even able to publish my first paper!
I was planning to study in Rome for the term and practice my basic Italian skills, but unfortunately the program was canceled. Instead of taking classes, I decided to continue working at my winter internship at NIH. Some of the research I conducted involved analyzing data on excess mortality as a method of estimating the true burden of COVID-19.
Can I conduct my own research as an undergrad in my field of choice (even if it's not STEM related)?
Definitely! There are a ton of opportunities to get involved with research even in non-STEM fields. One popular program to secure a research position and funding is through the Sophomore and Junior Research Scholars program. In the information session I attended, they emphasized that non-STEM research is welcomed and many professors in such departments are looking for committed and enthusiastic undergraduates to help them on projects.
One of my friends is working with a professor from a class we took together, Applied Multivariate Data Analysis. Throughout the term, the professor mentioned that he is open to working with students in his class and has published many papers with undergraduates. My friend decided to join his freshman spring and secured funding through the government department.
I have another friend who is working in the political violence lab, which is made of researchers at Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, the University of California, San Diego, the University of Chicago, and Yale. She applied for the Presidential Scholars program, which students typically apply for after completing the terms of the Sophomore Scholars program. It's definitely not difficult to receive funding for research on-campus, and in my experience, professors are extremely open to new students joining, especially if they have worked with you through a class or you have shown a real interest in what they are studying.
If students do find themselves struggling, they can always contact Undergraduate Advising and Research (UGAR), which helps students engage in research with Dartmouth faculty. Undergraduate advisors as well as informal advisors in the form of past professors in the department can certainly help too!
It's weird to think that an entire year has gone by. I could take this moment to lament how I lost half my first year (Spring and Summer) to COVID-19. There's really a lot I could complain about, but strange thing is, I don't really feel like it.
Although it will surely be different from previous terms, I'm looking forward to being back on-campus. I miss the sunsets as I walk from the library to FoCo, asking my friends to study on the Green with me, and so much more about being at Dartmouth.
In my last post, I described how the distributive requirements at Dartmouth not only encourage you to take advantage of the breadth of the curriculum offered, but they can also help to spark an unexpected new passion. Here's part two!
Over the last three years, I have discovered some hidden gem classes, which broadened my academic perspective and even helped to ignite a new passion. I have too many of these courses for only one post, so let's just call this "Part One."