ASU biochemistry student helps incoming freshmen get a head start

Editor's note: This profile is part of a series showcasing students in the School of Molecular Sciences.

Adam Samuel is a senior majoring in biochemistry. A native of Arizona, he received the President’s Scholarship from Arizona State University, an institutional merit scholarship that helps undergraduate students with tuition costs. Undergraduate research is an important part of the student experience in the School of Molecular Sciences, and Samuel has taken full advantage of the opportunities provided by the school with his work in Jia Guo’s research lab developing new probes to detect and study disease.

Samuel is also is a mentor in the School of Molecular Sciences' Early Start program, a two-week immersion program that gives incoming freshmen a jump start on their college careers, offering them support and resources such as connections to their peer group and mentorship from upperclassmen, faculty and academic advisors to help them succeed at ASU.

Question: When did you first realize that you wanted to study chemistry?

Answer: I first realized that I wanted to study chemistry during my sophomore year, when I took organic chemistry with Dr. [Ian] Gould. Up to that I point I had been an engineer, but I instantly fell in love with the content of the class and constantly thought about learning more about the subject.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I’m originally from Phoenix so it was close, and tuition was very affordable. I also received a great scholarship from the university.

Q: What research opportunities have you had as a student here, and can you describe your research experience?

A: I have been involved in the research lab of Dr. Jia Guo since my sophomore year. The lab centers around studying disease, and my main contribution to the group has been the synthesis of an organic molecule that can be used to connect to fluorophore probes.

Q: What are some extracurricular activities that you enjoy at ASU?

A: I enjoy being outdoors and doing outdoor activities such as hiking. The weather in Arizona is rarely cold, which makes it an excellent place to hike, fish and camp.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about the Early Start program, where you were a student mentor?

A: I worked as a mentor for Early Start this summer and into the fall semester with Dr. Gould to help incoming freshman get better acclimated to college life, and to help them with the transition from living at home. I really enjoyed the program, which consisted of helping them understand what's expected of them throughout their college experience and how to conduct themselves with professors. There was even a seminar where they were given an exam on material they had been taught to give the students an understanding of how to prepare for exams in college. There were several incoming freshman that I met that were extremely smart, and I look forward to seeing how they develop in both their academic and professional careers.

Q: What’s something you have learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?

A: You might think you know what you want to do, but then suddenly you can have a complete change of mind based on one class. I found a class I loved more than anything else my fall semester of senior year. So don’t be afraid to take all different types of classes (chemistry related or not).

Q: What is your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

A: My favorite spots on campus are the corner private rooms in Noble library. They let in the most sunlight during the day, and they offer a nice view when I want to take a break from studying. Another place very close to campus that I enjoy a lot for getting work done is Cartel coffee.

Q: What are your career goals after graduation?

A: After graduation, I want to go on to complete my PhD in inorganic chemistry and eventually become a professor at a university.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to students interested in coming to ASU to study chemistry or biochemistry?

A: It doesn’t come naturally, and you should not be afraid to ask a lot of questions or go to office hours. There’s no shame in putting forth your own effort and enthusiasm; your professors want to teach for a reason!


Rachel Lee
School of Molecular Sciences