Although she finished her undergraduate work at Millikin less than five years ago, Emilie Porter ’98 of Mt. Vernon, Ill., has already made a name for herself in the field of biotechnology. The University of Wisconsin – Madison graduate student was honored in 2000 with a nationally recognized award for her work in the discovery of a molecule that can be developed into an antibiotic.
She won $20,000 in the Collegiate Inventors Competition for the discovery of a synthetic peptide that can be used to fight antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Although it may be years before it is developed into a drug, her discovery, which was announced in Business Week magazine (as well as several other news and scientific publications), is an important step in the right direction. It also bodes well for a promising career.
She says, “I am interested in working in the biotechnology industry in the area of pharmaceutical discovery, so having the experience of making a pharmaceutical discovery in graduate school--and winning an award for it-- should help me when I am looking for jobs. Also, we have applied for a patent on this molecule, so it was a good learning experience for me to go through some of the patent process.”
Porter credits the chemistry department at MU with helping her decide on a career direction early on. She says, “The chemistry faculty helped me figure out what my interests were and pointed me in the right direction. They were very helpful to me by encouraging me to get involved in undergraduate research and by being wonderful classroom teachers.”
She offers this advice to anyone considering a degree in science “Get involved in research very early on. Coursework is important for understanding the basics, but research is where you get the experience of actually doing science. Starting undergraduate research early really helped me to find my calling.”
The complete article appeared in the summer ???? issue of Millikin Quarterly Magazine.