Summer Research at Harvard

Encouraged by Earlham professors Bob Rosenberg and Peter Blair (both in biology), biochemistry major Elizabeth Richards ’14 spent a summer in the Frank Sacks Lab at the Harvard School of Public Health studying cardiovascular disease.

Richards’s experience at Harvard was not her first foray into scientific research. After taking an intriguing Immunology course taught by Blair during her sophomore year, Richards’s interest in that subject was piqued. Soon after, one of her Earlham advisors, Professor Amy Mulnix (biology), helped secure an opportunity for her to study T-cells at Virginia Mason Hospital’s Benaroya Research Institute in Seattle the following summer.

Earlham professors have had considerable influence on Richards. She described Rosenberg and Blair as accessible, caring, and having enthusiastic, contagious teaching styles. She credited Mulnix for helping her to believe in herself and her abilities as well as assisting her with securing off-campus opportunities. Professor of Physics John Howell’s teaching methods enhanced Richards’s enjoyment of the subject matter, which resulted in her becoming a teaching assistant.

Earlham introduced Richards to different cultures, both in and out of the classroom. Her future plans reflect such a cross-cultural focus, for in addition to her post-baccalaureate goals of traveling, medical school and a master’s degree in public health, she hopes to conduct research in West Africa, where there are numerous health-related challenges. Having met natives of this area while an Earlham student, Richards feels a special connection with that population.

She has appreciated factors that make Earlham unique, such as its small class sizes, focus on social awareness, joyful student life, and the personal relationships among and between professors and students. As evidenced by her success both on campus and in the laboratory, she has benefitted from these valued qualities. In addition to her eighteen hour course load, she is active in other roles on campus, including playing varsity soccer and serving as a teaching assistant.

Richards is highly regarded, engaged with both the campus and the wider global community. Blair identified Richards as a “top student” who will be a “superb applicant” for medical school. She is appreciative of all that Earlham has offered during her years on campus, and Earlham is proud to be sending her forward as a stellar example of a current and future leader.

Elizabeth Richards
Elizabeth Richards 2014

Hometown: Stanwood, Wash.

Interests: Summer research at the Harvard School of Public Health; soccer; physics teaching assistant

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