Science and Medicine
Whether in medical school, conducting research or practicing medicine, Dickinson graduates are grateful for the hands-on science education they received and the state-of-the-art equipment they had access to.
Jack Gardner ’59, chemistry
Owner/managing director of Growth Curves USA
“Dickinson gave me grounding in the liberal arts, delight in discovering new things and warm relationships with friends. There was a sense of belonging to a family, where you could be yourself among people who cared about you, cheered you on if you succeeded and picked you up if you failed. Dickinson gave me a good education, a broader view of the world and a chance to develop into the person that I wanted to become. How could I not give to Dickinson?”
Kevin Johnson ’83, biology
Associate professor and vice chairman at Vanderbilt University Medical Center
“The liberal-arts education was a significant fraction, but only a fraction of what I gained as a Dickinson graduate. Sure—Dickinson taught me the language of the political scientist, the sociologist and the Greek scholar—all of whom could be patients or parents of my patients. Dickinson also taught me about life and its many challenges. I learned about the challenge of working in teams and keeping it fun but productive. I learned about the challenge of managing time, both at work and in life. I learned about the challenge of coping with stress and realizing what is actually important. These and many other lessons occurred beyond the classroom and throughout my years at Dickinson.”
Doug Sheeley ’86, chemistry
Program director of the National Center for Research Resources at the National Institutes of Health
“At Dickinson, my classmates and I were told occasionally by our professors that they felt we’d be better prepared for graduate school than our peers who did their undergraduate training at big research universities. I didn’t realize how true this was until I got to grad school and could compare my perspective to that of my peers. I was much better prepared for the business of actually doing research—planning experiments, thinking on my feet, running instruments and working independently—all of which came from years with faculty who made inquiry a priority, including an emphasis on independent research.
Something else that it took longer to recognize was the difference of perspective that a liberal-arts education gave me toward interdisciplinary research. Because of this, I have always been drawn to less obvious areas of science and unconventional settings. I have also been drawn to work at the boundaries between disciplines, sometimes violating the sanctity of academic silos. At Dickinson, I learned to embrace interdisciplinary topics like the history of science, comparative ethno-astronomy and psychopharmacology. The ability to live simultaneously in the worlds of biology and analytical chemistry has allowed me to work in diverse teams of scientists and to do so in academic, industrial and government settings, in and out of the lab. With time I’ve learned that these boundary layers between disciplines are always where the action (and real progress) is. I am convinced that this liberal-arts perspective that encourages curiosity and trains one to look for connections and ignore boundaries is the single most valuable aspect of a Dickinson education for a career in science.”
Edward R. Thieler ’87, environmental science and political science
Marine geologist, U.S. Department of the Interior
“I am in significant measure the person I am today because of my Dickinson experience. Among many things, I learned how to be a leader, how to think critically and how to take a holistic view of issues. I still feel connected to the institution and its values. I have been back to campus a couple times in the last several years, and I have noticed that while the people change and the facilities get better, the underlying sense of dignity and purpose remains the same. It’s inspiring.”
Rebecca Levit ’02, biology
Resident physician at Emory University School of Medicine
“I chose Dickinson for superficial reasons—I liked the campus and the location of the school—but it was probably the best un-educated decision I ever made. I participated in the medical-rotation program, where I ‘scrubbed in’ to my first surgical procedure, a gall bladder removal. After the rotation, I arranged an internship with an alum who is an orthopedic surgeon. The doctor included me in all aspects of his practice, including interviewing patients, in-patient treatments and surgeries. Learning what my life will be like as a doctor was very valuable. With this type of hands-on experience, I didn’t go blindly into medical school.
Based largely on the research I did with professors at Dickinson, I won a Fulbright award in 2002 to study the biochemical and physiological causes of aging in Australia. All the skills on which I based my Fulbright research, I learned at Dickinson.”
Rehab Tabchi ’03, biochemistry and molecular biology and religion
Physician at Sacred Heart Hospital in Allentown, Pa.
"This sounds silly to say, but I honestly found my true self at Dickinson. The education I gained allowed me to go beyond the limestone walls. Being involved with diversity issues, religious life and community service really opened my eyes to the world. Dickinson gave so much to me that I want to give back, and if that helps other students have the same kind of experience, then that’s all the better."
Treasure Walker ’04, biology and chemistry
Ob-gyn resident at Lehigh Valley Hospital in Allentown, Pa.
“I have friends who majored in molecular biology at other schools, and almost all their classes were science classes. But I took women’s studies classes; I found my passion for diversity and culture; I got to study abroad [in England, through the Norwich Science Program]—which most pre-med students don’t get to do. Dickinson gave me opportunities to be flexible, to be a diverse person, to be more than just one thing.”
Ben Tiede ’05, biology and biochemistry & molecular biology
Global Public Health Consultant
Earned a Ph.D. in molecular biology at Princeton University
“One of the things I really liked about Dickinson was that basically the sky was the limit. Whatever I wanted to do, I would be able to have the opportunity to pursue it. Coming to Princeton, I felt extremely well prepared having gone to Dickinson. I think that a lot of my classmates that had gone to big Ivy League institutions had great lecture courses and things like that but they really didn’t have the hands-on experience that I had.”
Katie McClellan ’07, biology
Student at Stanford University School of Medicine
“Dickinson’s science faculty prepared me incredibly well, but the women’s-studies classes and the sociology classes prepared me perhaps even more. Though you can get a lot of scientific education in medical school, you can’t get the ability to think about all the other factors that contribute to health. Understanding the psychological, social and cultural factors needed to have a well-rounded understanding of who your patients are beyond their illness or symptoms is invaluable, and that’s what I think I really got out of my Dickinson education.”
Kate Consroe ’09, environmental science
Sustainability coordinator at Dickinson
“I think the education I received at Dickinson was really important because it wasn’t just all classroom learning. I did a lot beyond classroom and saw how it applied in real world. I participated in the Luce semester and in several research projects where the information and data that were collected was used by real world groups. I had internship opportunities with ALLARM and as a sustainability intern. Being an environmental-science major could be depressing sometimes—there’s all these problems, the climate is changing, there’s pollution everywhere … what are we going to do about it? It was really heartening that Dickinson’s facilities, operations and commitment to LEED was really backing up everything I was learning in the classroom. It was encouraging that Dickinson actually is doing something about it.”