Therald Moeller Scholarship recipient pursues career as science educator


January 17, 2018

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

Shannon Sipes is a senior majoring in chemistry. She is pursuing a career as a science educator and is currently earning her secondary education certificate in chemistry through a program offered by Arizona State University's Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College while simultaneously working on her bachelor’s degree in chemistry. SMS Student Shannon Sipes Shannon Sipes, School of Molecular Sciences senior, will earn her bachelor's in chemistry in May 2018. Download Full Image

Arizona State University and the School of Molecular Sciences strive to provide students with a variety of opportunities for financial support. Sipes is a recipient of the Therald Moeller Scholarship, a scholarship established in the 1980's in honor of Emeritus Professor Therald Moeller to support a student in the School of Molecular Sciences with interest in a career in chemistry.

Not only that, but Sipes is also a participant in the Maricopa to ASU Pathways Program (MAPP) through GCC. MAPP helps students who attend any Maricopa Community College plan and complete coursework that can then allow them to transfer to ASU and finish their bachelor’s degree here. MAPP guarantees admission to ASU degree programs once course requirements are met and is a very cost-effective path to earning a bachelor’s degree at a university for local students.

Question: When did you first realize that you wanted to study the field you are majoring in?

Answer: I realized that I wanted to study chemistry and chemistry education when I was in my first general chemistry class. The professor that I had the pleasure of learning from, Professor George Gregg, was so incredibly amazing at sharing his love and passion for his field as well as being able to relate chemistry to everyday life and speak to its value on a medicinal/health value. Because of this, he inspired me to pursue a degree in chemistry.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I chose to earn my degree at ASU because of its chemistry program and its partnership with Glendale Community College as well as the fact that all of my family members are ASU Sun Devils. I followed the Maricopa to ASU Pathways Program (MAPP) during my time at GCC prior to transferring to ASU for my junior and senior year, and I would absolutely recommend it to anyone who wants to earn a bachelor’s degree at a university following their community college experience. ASU's partnership with Glendale Community College through MAPP made my transition to ASU incredibly smooth, as I had already completed almost all of my lower division classes while at GCC.

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

A: Through Barrett’s thesis project, I have had the opportunity to research and explore facets of chemistry and science education within the refugee population of Arizona. I worked with volunteers for the IRC (International Rescue Committee) as well as a college chemistry professor and multiple education professors to create science lesson plans tailored to English Language Learners. The experience was extremely rewarding and valuable to me and my future as a science educator.

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

A: While researching science teaching methods for English Language Learners, I was surprised by how important tangible and visual examples were when it comes to enhanced understanding of challenging and new topics. Learning this has influenced me to incorporate this method when I become a science or chemistry teacher.

Q: What are your career goals after graduation?

A: Following graduation, I hope to begin my career by focusing on science and chemistry education as a teacher in Arizona. I want to implement teaching strategies that I’ve learned and observed in my chemistry classes, my education classes, and during my research with AZ refugee students. I am incredibly excited to begin teaching chemistry and other science topics because I want to inspire others to pursue higher education within science fields because many of my chemistry professors inspired me to do the same. I feel as though a knowledge of chemistry (and all other sciences) is extremely crucial to one’s understanding of their surrounding world and is also a key component in medical fields (such as medicinal product development), which I believe to be incredibly important.

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

A: My advice would be to introduce yourself to your professors and express to them your personal goals. Your professors will often push you to meet those goals and will be a significant part of your college support system.

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ASU biochemistry student excels in biomedical research


January 17, 2018

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

Sidney Covarrubias is a molecular sciences student majoring in biochemistry with an interest in medicine. She plans to become a doctor and participate in Doctors without Borders. Covarrubias is a student at Barrett, The Honors College, and has given back to her community as a community assistant for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, an ASU tour guide through Devils’ Advocates, an academic tutor for USAP and more. SMS Student Sidney Covarrubias Sidney Covarrubias will receive her bachelor's degree in biochemistry. Download Full Image

Covarrubias has not only conducted undergraduate research the School of Molecular Sciences, but this summer she participated in the extremely prestigious Helios Scholars at TGen summer internship program in biomedical research. She worked with the University of Arizona College of Medicine to create a paper-based microfluidic device that can detect the infectious disease melioidosis and later presented her project results and accomplishments at a formal research symposium.

Question: When did you first realize that you wanted to study the field you are majoring in?

Answer: I realized I wanted to study biochemistry after being exposed to my first semester of organic chemistry. Having taken general biology and chemistry courses, I always felt that I was missing information or was merely being given facts about the way in which the body works. Taking organic chemistry helped me finally realize where everything truly came from and the concepts from prior classes made more sense, and I knew that a field that goes down to a molecular level explanation of science was the right fit for me. 

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I chose to come to ASU after a tour given by Devils’ Advocates (a student organization that introduces prospective students to ASU). I truly felt like the campus and the many opportunities, especially research opportunities, both at the university and nearby would allow me to dive into what I loved. In addition to this, I was accepted into Barrett, The Honors College, which gave me the challenge as an undergraduate to develop a senior thesis. Overall, I felt that ASU offered everything I was looking for, made me feel safe and challenged me all at the same time. 

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

A: My first research lab was working with ways in which to combat type II diabetes by changing insulin dosages. In addition to this, I also participated in a study analyzing stereotypes individuals hold based on their access to water and water pollution. After gaining research experience, I applied to the Helios program at the Translational Genomic Research institute and obtained the opportunity to become a summer intern. Over the summer, I worked with the University of Arizona College of Medicine creating a paper-based microfluidic device that could detect the infectious disease melioidosis. My research experience here at ASU opened up opportunities for me that I did not consider possible. It helped me learn a lot of basic terminology and skills that have helped me not only in research, but in my courses here at ASU.

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

A: I am currently a community assistant for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, an ASU tour guide through Devils’ Advocates, an academic tutor for USAP, a counselor for Camp Kesem and a volunteer for Hospice of the Valley. In the past, I was also part of the Medical Women’s Association, Power in Youth, and Barrett Choir. I love getting involved on campus and trying new activities. In addition to this, I love to go to the Sun Devil Fitness Center and participate in the group fitness classes, which is not only a great way to de-stress, but also make new friends.

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

A: In all sincerity, I have learned that change and challenges are part of becoming a better student and person. I have always been a planner and consistent in the way in which I go about life, but the opportunities that I have been given at ASU have pushed me and challenged me into accepting that at times we cannot control everything and that challenges can be blessings. I would advise students interested in coming to ASU to study chemistry or biochemistry to always keep their options open, because their college experience might change their future career path for the better.

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