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Moravec Gains Research Experiences at National Stem Cell Institute

October 16, 2013


Student Researcher: Katherine Moravec, a senior chemical engineering major, was a 2013-14 Goldwater Scholar. (Photo by Larry Ladig)

Katherine Moravec’s love of science and research was enriched by her summer as a research intern at Harvard Medical School’s Stem Cell Institute—one of only 35 students from throughout the world chosen from more than 500 applicants.

“It was a great experience that really opened up my eyes to how exciting research is,” says the senior chemical engineering major from Seymour, Indiana. “Being at Harvard, around many of the leading researchers in the stem cell field, was an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It was a great educational environment.”

Moravec had already gained extensive research experience at Rose-Hulman, spending two years working alongside Chemistry and Biochemistry Professor Ross Weatherman, PhD, on a National Institutes of Health-funded project examining new compounds to treat tamoxifen-resistant breast cancer. She has synthesized tamoxifen analogs, learned the basics of chemical synthesis, and developed a protein expression system for estrogen receptor in bacteria.

“Katherine figured out the conceptual aims and issues of her project even when she was working on projects that were pretty far ahead of her classroom training,” states Weatherman. “The chemical engineering major is somewhat unusual for someone this interested in a career in biomedical research, but it makes her a stronger student with broad training. She is definitely someone who has research in her future.”

Moravec’s scientific experiences helped her be named a 2013-14 Goldwater Scholar, one of the most prestigious honors for undergraduate science, engineering, and mathematics students. She was one of seven Indiana college students chosen on the basis of academic merit; one of 95 female students selected; and one of 71 engineering majors featured this year.

“Research is so exciting. It’s where I feel that I can make a difference,” says Moravec. “You read about all of the exciting medical discoveries being made every day, and it all starts in the research laboratory.”

With a near-perfect 3.98 grade point average, Moravec is interested in continuing research at graduate school. That’s where this summer’s internship at Harvard could pave the way for her future.

“Spending this summer at Harvard, alongside so many outstanding college students from throughout the world, should open so many doors for the future,” says Moravec, who is adding a minor in biochemistry and molecular biology to her academic resume.

Away from the science lab and classroom, Moravec was crowned Rose-Hulman’s Homecoming Queen this fall and is president of the Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society. She is also vice president of administration for the Delta Delta Delta female fraternity and a former member of the varsity track and cross country teams.

“I’m a good team player,” she admits.

Weatherman agrees, adding, “Katherine’s intellect, perseverance and social skills are her greatest strengths. She does not have many weaknesses. I think the summer undergraduate experience at Harvard will help her crystallize decisions about her future in medical research.”