Plaid Works

Sarah Cox: Discovering New Knowledge

“Everything I have learned about chemistry, I learned at Alma. Some of the graduate students I worked with over the summer now use the techniques I brought with me from Alma in their own research labs.” — Sarah Cox

Sarah CoxSarah CoxSarah Cox ’15 faced a tough choice when she was finishing up her senior year. The biology major received graduate school offers from the Ph.D. programs at the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Ohio State University, the University of Notre Dame and Purdue University.

After some deliberation, Cox chose the doctorate degree in chemistry from the University of Michigan, where she earned a full graduate assistantship to cover all tuition costs for the program.

Cox credits her research experiences at Alma for making her stand out to the top graduate schools in the Midwest.

During her time at Alma, Cox participated in the University of Michigan’s material chemistry research program, funded by the National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates program. She helped to discover a new molecular gelator using computational methods to predict possible gel forming molecules. She then synthesized and screened for successful gelators.

Cox also participated in five semesters of on-campus research, beginning in her sophomore year, working with organic synthesis of prostaglandin inhibitors.

“Everything I have learned about chemistry, I learned at Alma,” she says. “Dr. Scott Hill taught me a lot of lab skills and tricks that he learned through his experience. Some of the graduate students I was working with in the summers now use techniques I brought with me from Alma in their own research labs.”

Sarah ultimately would like to be a professor at a small liberal arts college much like Alma or enter into a career in the chemical industry after she is finished earning her doctorate degree.

“If I become a professor, I would present the information in the same manner that I learned it at Alma,” she says. “Classes made sense to me, and I was excited to learn more about the topics and get more involved in doing actual research on these topics.”

Outside of the lab, Cox also was a member and captain of the Alma College cheer and STUNT teams. She also worked as the student operator for the facilities office and a chemistry tutor and teaching assistant, sharing her knowledge with other students on campus. 

Story published on May 01, 2015