Jonathan Harrison’19

As an avid surfer and certified SCUBA diver, my interest in scientific research stems from an affinity for the ocean. In my time so far at Bowdoin, I have pursued a marine focus in my Biology major, enrolling in the Marine Science Semester and conducting an independent research project in the Coastal Studies Center lab. Furthermore, I have participated in field work on the Great Barrier Reef, performing geological reef zonations and bioturbation transect surveys as part of my semester abroad program at the University of Queensland, Australia. While the study and preservation of the diverse ecosystems that comprise the world’s oceans is still highly important to me, I am also interested in other fields of biology. I wish to expand my studies to biological applications that will more tangibly and directly benefit society and human lives through medicinal technology. The Matrivax Research Internship, which will allow me to work at the frontier of vaccine biotechnology in a dynamic start-up company, offers a critical bridge between my past and future research experiences and will assist my pursuit of a career in the biotech industry. I aspire to grow from these research experiences and allow them to direct the course of my academic studies in my senior year at Bowdoin. I have considered the potential to expand my academics through the form of an honors project or independent study that would build upon my newly acquired knowledge in microbiology and immunology at Matrivax.

In my time outside of academics, I value volunteer work to contribute to Bowdoin’s mission of the common good. I am a volunteer grader for the Bowdoin chapter of the College Guild, which provides free educational courses to incarcerated students. I am also a mentor and curriculum writer for Creating Compassionate Leaders In Men and Boys, a newly formed student organization that provides after-school mentorship to local boys at Bath Middle School on issues surrounding masculinity. These experiences have taught me about myself as a leader and mentor, and the personal growth I attained through volunteer work. I am excited by the prospect of working in a summer internship that will allow me to combine my passion for public service with my studies in Biology. As an up-and-coming startup that specializes in an exclusively- licensed vaccine production method via the construction of a protein capsular matrix, Matrivax struck me as an incredibly exciting and engaging place to work. The technologies under development have the potential to make vaccines much more effective and financially accessible to the public – particularly among populations that are underserved by traditional conjugate vaccines.

As a typically introverted and independent student at Bowdoin, I often choose to study alone and feel restricted in my ability to work with others. However, I highly value collaboration and diversity in perspective as a powerful driver of learning. The small-company atmosphere at Matrivax seems to be highly team-oriented and intersectional across departments, with an ubiquitous attitude of friendliness and familiarity. Although everyone I met was highly specialized in their field, they all exhibited a genuine interest in the research of their peers. Through a summer working in this kind of environment, I hope to push myself to become a more communal and outgoing learner. I intend to bring this academic attitude back to Bowdoin, and contribute to a more cohesive community on campus, both within Biology and across other departments.