ASU a perfect fit for biochemistry graduate

Darian Takase

Darian Takase


Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for fall 2018 commencement. Read about more graduates

Darian Takase always knew she wanted to pursue a career in medicine, but where she would go to school to earn her undergraduate degree was another story. Takase had lots of options and decided to take an unconventional approach to selecting her college — drawing a name out of a bowl. A simple leap of faith brought Takase from Hilo, Hawaii to Arizona State University.

Initially she started off studying as a biology major, influenced by her grandfather who is a physician and one of the first OB-GYN's on the Big Island. It was during her second year at ASU that Takase discovered her love for chemistry and changed her major to biochemistry to accommodate both interests.

School of Molecular Sciences Professor Scott Lefler taught Takase in one of his biochemistry classes. Takase credits Lefler and the professors here at ASU with guidance and support in achieving her academic goals.  

"Darian was a pleasure to have in class with her high level of interest in biochemistry and her positive attitude,” Lefler said. “Whatever career path Darian chooses, she will certainly be successful. I look forward to seeing the results of her time at ASU impact the greater world."

Takase is very involved on campus at ASU. She is part of Alpha Omega Chi and was an intern in the Science is Fun class with Professor Jim Klemaszewski. The Science is Fun interns give hands-on demonstrations at on campus events like Open Door and Homecoming, as well going out to visit local k-12 schools and participating in community events.

“Darian was an outstanding ASU Science is Fun intern,” Klemaszewski said. “She has a positive energy and strong interpersonal skills that enhance her knowledge of and love for science.”

After graduation Takase plans to stay on as researcher in the Precision Neuro Therapeutic Lab at the Mayo Clinic and will be applying to medical school in 2019.

Takase answered some questions about her time at ASU, offered some advice for current students and what her plans are for the future.

Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in? (Might be while you were at ASU or earlier.)

Answer: I’ve always wanted to pursue a career in the medical field, so I originally started off as a biology major. However, I started to realize around my sophomore year that I was far more interested in chemistry. I thought biochemistry would be a middle ground between the two and I ended up loving it!

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

A:  was genuinely surprised at the relationships I was able to form with my professors. Going into ASU was intimidating just because it’s such a large school but at the end of the day, if you truly find the time to get to know your professors and ask questions, they will remember you.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: If I’m being completely honest, I chose ASU out of a bowl. I was accepted into quite a few colleges which all had something different to offer so me being the indecisive person I am, decided to write them all down on pieces of paper and just pick one and go with it. Although it might’ve not been the most educated way to pick my college education, I am so happy I chose ASU. The school spirit is unbeatable, the campus is gorgeous, and In-N-Out is 5 minutes away.

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: Dr. Lefler was definitely one of the most influential professors I’ve had at ASU. As far as class material goes, I can now recite the TCAtricarboxylic acid cycle in my sleep. However, outside of class, Dr. Lefler took the time to talk with me about my life goals and helped me grow as an individual. 

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: To those still in school, get involved! Currently, I am in Alpha Chi Omega, do research at Mayo (Clinic), teach chemistry labs at ASU, and have an internship at Honor Health Emergency Department. The amount of opportunities ASU has to offer is virtually endless and the connections you make along the way can really set you up for your success after graduation.

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

My favorite spot on campus is the new student pavilion. It’s a great place to study and meet with friends. I love going on the balcony area around sunset and doing my homework outside.

A: What are your plans after graduation?

I currently hold a research position at the Mayo Clinic where I study MRI images of malignant brain tumors also known as glioblastoma multiforme. I hope to continue my research there while I study for the MCATMedical College Admission Test. I plan on applying to medical school this coming cycle but until then, I also want to do some traveling! 

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: If I was given $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, I would tackle ocean pollution. More specifically, I would like to put funding towards cleaning up the Great Pacific garbage patch gyre. When I was growing up in Hawaii, I learned about the importance of conserving our marine ecosystems so that future generations could still enjoy it. However, I know that the Great Pacific garbage patch, which is located in between Hawaii and California, poses a huge threat to marine life. It’s pretty obvious that the marine life is being affected by it but we are also consumers of these animals, so the implications have the ability of coming back to haunt us.

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