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F&M Stories

Success Beyond F&M: Conducting Research at a Harvard Medical School Laboratory

The tremendous success of F&M graduates demonstrates the tangible value of an F&M degree. At F&M, we have an exemplary landing rate. Within six months after graduation, 93% of F&M’s Class of 2023 were either employed or furthering their education.

In this series, we check in with members of the Class of 2023 to learn more about their post-graduate path and how their F&M experience launched them toward success.

Holly Batchelder '23

Holly Batchelder ’23

Major: Neuroscience

Minor: Applied mathematics

Current role: Research assistant for the director of the Center of Experimental Therapeutics and Reperfusion Injury (CETRI) at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School.

What did the first six months after graduating from F&M look like?

Two weeks after graduation, I moved to Boston and began working as a research assistant for the director of the Center of Experimental Therapeutics and Reperfusion Injury (CETRI) at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School. The CETRI focuses on the resolution of inflammation; more specifically, how endogenous (produced inside an organism or cell) specialized pro-resolving lipid mediators spatially and temporally regulate the immune response, promote wound healing, and restore tissue function.

These first six months were very exciting. I spent the weekdays integrating myself into the lab, starting by refreshing my organic chemistry knowledge, learning immunology and then applying these concepts to new biochemical laboratory protocols. By December, I was entrusted to conduct independent experimentation, operate state-of-the-art instruments, and complete chemical data analysis of experimental results. I greatly enjoy working in the CETRI, for I feel that my work as a research assistant contributes to advancing clinical knowledge of acute and chronic inflammation – an issue that underlies post-surgical outcomes, diseases, infections and cancers. Aside from work, I spent most of my summer weekends exploring the various sections of Boston, finding the best running spots and charming historical neighborhoods, and tasting all the best cannoli in the North End (Boston's Little Italy).

How did your F&M experience prepare you for where you are now?

At the most fundamental level, F&M's Department of Chemistry thoroughly prepared me for my job by teaching and helping me develop my organic chemistry knowledge. In addition to foundational knowledge, the department also gave me the amazing opportunities to conduct organic chemistry and biochemistry research, where I first began to learn basic laboratory skills and develop my critical thinking. Since the majority of the experimentations and data analysis I conduct on a daily basis are based in organic and biochemical theory, I can confidently reason my way through complex data analysis and use chemical hypothetical reasoning to organize follow-up experimentations.

I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to be a tutor and lead the organic chemistry tutoring team at F&M. I frequently draw upon my learned tutoring skills as I train new members of the lab and visit post-doctoral researchers in our laboratory techniques. Just as at F&M, where I worked to foster tutee independence, in the CETRI I work to help new members and visitors complete protocols and subsequent data analysis independently and confidently. Finally, my participation on F&M's track team instilled in me (the concept) that with consistent and complete effort, one can accomplish previous feats that seemed unreachable. Although my move to a new city and working a new job was a daunting task, taking one day at a time and focusing on daily achievements, I see how I have grown personally and professionally in less than a year.

“F&M’s Department of Chemistry thoroughly prepared me for my job by teaching and helping me develop my organic chemistry knowledge.”

— Holly Batchelder ’23

How does your current path compare to what you envisioned in your first year at F&M?

When I arrived at F&M, my goal was to finish college and enter medical school directly. I never envisioned I would take two gap years before – hopefully – entering medical school, let alone spend this time working in the forefront of cutting-edge clinical research in a Harvard Medical School laboratory at Brigham and Women's Hospital. I am very happy with my current path, as this incredible career opportunity has helped me develop a scientific clinical mindset and opened my eyes to the future of health care, focusing on personalized medicine within a whole-body system approach.

Looking back on your college search, why did you choose F&M?

I chose F&M because of the personal attention students receive from professors, faculty and advisers. Due to the small class sizes and no graduate programs, I and other students could readily get involved in research, internships, and leadership opportunities fostering academic and personal development. Furthermore, I decided to attend F&M because of the rigorous pre-medical academic track and thorough pre-health advisement. The educational structure and supportive post-graduate development not only enables health professional school enrollment, but also prepares F&M alumni for their next academic challenge.

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