Timothy Helbig-Department of Biological Sciences - Carnegie Mellon University

Friday, April 17, 2009

Timothy Helbig

May 2010 Graduate, B.S. in Biological Sciences
Goldwater Scholar

“It’s cool to be a nerd here, and I appreciate that.”

I came to Carnegie Mellon to study biological sciences, because of the program’s reputation. My best friend, a senior studying Physics here, was also influential in my decision. He always told me how nice the school was and how great a place it was to study biological sciences.

I haven’t been disappointed with my decision to attend Carnegie Mellon; it is a very friendly learning environment. Faculty members always have their doors opens to undergraduates to discuss science and more.

My favorite aspect of the program is the ease in which undergraduate can participate in research. For instance, I took part in the Summer Research Institute (SRI) after my freshmen year. I isolated and studied single-chain variable fragments (scFvs), which can be used to make biosensors.

SRI was probably the most influential experience of my undergraduate career. Prior to my involvement in the program, I had taken a few basic biology courses that covered “this is what a mitochondria does”, but I didn’t understand what people did with that information. SRI made this connection for me. It made biology real, and showed me a whole new career and life that I never knew existed before.

From that point on, I have been continually involved in research. I currently work in a laboratory at the University of Pittsburgh on thermal tolerance in plants.

I also participate in other activities besides research. I am an active member in the Biological Sciences Student Advisory Council (BioSAC) and I wrote this year’s murder mystery play entitled “Phantom of the Operon” for the group. Additionally, I tutor for the Urban League of Pittsburgh Charter Schools.

After graduation, I hope to attend graduate school and study plant genetics.