Ryan Chappell

I did not join the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology major until halfway through my senior year at UMass. Previously, I had been following the Neuroscience track of the Psychology major. However, as I chugged through the many scientific prerequisites of the major, I slowly became enamored with biology, chemistry, and science in general. At the insistence of a few good friends, I changed my major from psychology to biochemistry. With a little hard work, a summer class at UMass Boston, and a lot of assistance from Chief Undergraduate Advisor Molly Fitzgerald-Hayes, I was able to graduate on time.

I graduated from BMB this past May with high hopes and an empty wallet. I decided to be ambitious with my class selection senior year, enrolling in two graduate courses- Advanced Organic Chemistry and Drug Design. I could not have enjoyed these classes more, but they certainly kept my hands full. While many of my peers were enjoying lightweight final semesters and focusing preemptively on job searching, I was spending my time in W.E.B. Du Bois with my fellow masochistic chemistry classmates. Therefore, when I was thrust into the real world upon graduation, job searching consumed my days.

After a series of interviews for various chemical and biochemical jobs, I accepted a job offer from a company called Calloway Labs in Woburn, MA. Immediately upon entering the lab at Calloway, I was assaulted by the sights and sounds of gas chromatographs, liquid chromatographs, mass spectrometers, and various other noisy and intimidating instruments. As a biochemistry major, my education had not focused on the technical aspects of chemistry and chemical instrumentation. As a result, I have had to start from square one (well, maybe square 1.5- I can use a micropipette like nobody’s business).

I will be in training for as long as four months in order to learn the ins and outs of analytical chemistry. I am extremely happy with my situation and I am very excited to be able to gain invaluable experience working with chromatographs and mass specs, tools that are ubiquitous in any large scale chemistry lab. Already, I have learned so much about clinical laboratory work and the ever-expanding role of computers in the lab. However, my undergraduate experience at UMass instilled in me an insatiable hunger for knowledge, and my eventual goals include graduate school and a return to a life of unhealthy amounts of coffee and a room the size of a Japanese capsule hotel.