Owen Tuck’20

The ‘total syntheses’ of complex natural products performed by Robert Woodward, a legendary Organic Chemist, became a sort of obsession of mine after having been introduced to them by my Organic Chemistry professor. The combination of novel reasoning and creativity in his groundbreaking works inspired me to pursue Organic Synthesis. After learning more about chemical structure and Biochemistry in my electives, I knew that I had definitively found what I want to do with my life: I want to be a chemist. Over the course of my career, I want to impart real world change through scientific research of Organic Synthesis and Biochemistry topics. I want to surround myself with other inspired people, pursue the highest level of education possible, and above all work to the spirit of scientific inquiry that Woodward so perfectly exemplified. To achieve these goals, I hope after my time at Bowdoin to attend graduate school in Organic Chemistry or a related topic. Research experience is a central prerequisite for any career in science. Besides being a huge boost in graduate admissions, undergraduate research experience would provide priceless laboratory skills and a deeper understanding of my scientific interests. Consequently, I set out to obtain a research position in an Organic Chemistry lab this summer.

Besides Biochemistry, my other major is German. I started German here and have fallen in love with speaking the language and absorbing the rich history, culture, and art of the German- speaking people. One of my central academic goals is to become proficient in the German Language – I will attend a German-only study abroad program in Freiburg, Germany next fall semester. Both of my academic majors intersect in the RISE Germany Program. RISE lies at the perfect intersection of my interests, offering an immersion experience in Germany and hands-on research in a novel topic. Considering these benefits, RISE became my first-choice program while searching for a research internship.

Starting in early October, I began the process of writing my CV and cover letters with the help of Professor Thomas Baumgarte, researching and choosing projects, and communicating with my prospective supervisors in Germany. Now, I’ve been accepted to RISE and matched with an Organic Synthesis project in a top research lab at Universität Hamburg in Hamburg, Germany. My research project requires that I utilize a range of organic, analytical, and biochemical techniques to safely synthesize chemicals for a novel protein study. I will be attempting, with the help of a team of PhD students, post-docs, and doctoral researchers, entirely new procedures and methodologies, many of which I will develop independently. I will live and work in a genuine research environment, interacting with my peers and attending lectures, meetings, and presentations. The hands-on experience I would get from research would, in addition to boosting my marketable skills to graduate schools and employers, provide a new and valuable insight into the life of a researcher. This program will set me on the path to a career in chemistry and will dovetail my academic work with real-life experience. A secondary but still important benefit of the RISE program is the immersion experience afforded by living in a bustling German city. I hope to improve both my conversational and scientific German Language skills over the course of my internship, which will give me a huge advantage in any future scientific study I may undertake in Germany or Europe.