BB undergraduate student Annika Swanson was named a 2012 Barry M. Goldwater Scholar. Annika is a sophomore and she is currently studying abroad at Lancaster University in England. We asked Annika to tell us a little bit about her past, present and future:

Where did you grow up and what high school did you attend?

I grew up in Spokane, Washington and attended West Valley High School where I enjoyed learning, participating in cross country, performing with the dance team, and being Vice President of the National Honor Society and my role as volunteer coordinator for that group.

Why did you choose to major in Biochemistry and Biophysics?

I have always been interested in science and have been particularly passionate about the environment and the effects of and solutions to pollution. I grew up going on family camping and hiking trips in numerous State and National Parks across the U.S. which gave me an appreciation for the environment and wildlife within. In school, my parents and teachers encouraged me to take what could be deemed "hard-science" courses and I enjoyed and excelled in those subjects. 

After touring OSU and going to different departments, I finally decided biochemistry and biophysics was the right major for me because of the "hard-science" basis in the biological sciences, a great advisor (Dr. Kevin Ahern), and the potential to continue on toward a PhD and/or MD degree later in life. I plan to minor in chemistry and women's studies at OSU and am also considering toxicology.

I began research under Dr. Robert Tanguay in an Environmental and Molecular Toxicology lab in my freshman year at OSU and then during the summer I was awarded with the URISC and HHMI grants to continue my investigation of the toxicity of oxygenated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (OPAHs) in developing zebrafish.

I have thoroughly enjoyed OSU and am a member of the Biochemistry/Biophysics Club. Although studying abroad has been one of the best decisions I have ever made, I have learned to appreciate the resources provided at OSU such as course help outside of the classroom, the testing procedure, and emphasis on undergraduate research.

What are you currently studying in England?

I am spending my sophomore year at Lancaster University in England, where I am taking calculus-based physics, genetics, organic chemistry and photochemistry, and gender and women's studies. After several months of searching, I was lucky to find a lab that accepted undergraduate students (this was apparently very uncommon) and have since been volunteering under Dr. Robert Lauder in a biomedical research lab investigating glycosaminoglycans, proteoglycans, and the effects of hydroxyl radicals.

What are your long term goals?

As of now, I want to pursue a PhD possibly in Toxicology and conduct research on the effects of environmental toxins on living organisms and later teach at the university level. I also hope to continue to travel and meet new people.

How do you feel about winning the award?

I feel very honored to have received this award and very thankful to everyone at OSU who played a part in my success and introduced me to research starting as a freshman. The award will also be an enormous help in paying for out-of-state tuition.