Student Snapshot: Liam Pauli ’21

LIam Pauli '21

Hearing about his mom’s experiences as a NICU nurse inspired Liam Pauli ’21 (biochemistry & molecular biology, German) to pursue a career in medicine. He now plans to one day become a pediatrician. Below, he discusses why he loves being a part of the swim team, what impressed him most about Dickinson students and coaches during his MTO visit to campus, what he enjoyed most about studying abroad, his hospital internship and more.


Delran, New Jersey.


Biochemistry & molecular biology and German.

Clubs and organizations:

Men’s swimming, Pre-Health Society, New Student Programs and German Club.


Founders Scholarship, David E. Lee ’91 Scholarship, Presidential Fellowship, Urkunde Certificate in German Studies and Raytheon Scholar.

Favorite book:

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

Favorite movie:

Woman in Gold.

On choosing Dickinson:

Dickinson had been at the back of my mind since I began touring colleges with my older sister, and it was actually the first college I ever visited. When it came down to choosing Dickinson, however, it was the people. I had been in contact with Coach Paul Richards since my junior year of high school when I decided I wanted to attend a liberal-arts college and swim at the Division III level. He always displayed interest in me as a potential Red Devil swimmer. When I visited campus for Admissions Made-to-Order Day, I was impressed by the helpfulness and kindness that the students, faculty and Coach Richards displayed.

After I sat in on two classes and had lunch with the swimming team, I knew I was ready to choose Dickinson.

Favorite place on campus:

The Clarke Aquatic Center.

Favorite Dining Hall food:

Chili and cornbread from the KOVE.

On choosing a major:

Since I was a child, I always knew I wanted a career in the medical field after listening to my mom’s stories of her job as a NICU nurse. I find the medical field so fascinating and boundless with opportunity, and I wanted a major that reflected my pursuits. When I learned more about the biochemistry & molecular biology major, I understood it was a unique combination of biology and chemistry that equipped students for a medical career, and I immediately decided on it as my major.

Favorite professor:
I can’t decide between Associate Professors of German Kamaal Haque and Antje Pfannkuchen, who have both enhanced my love for the German language and who continuously support me inside and outside of class. Both have been tremendous resources in my time at Dickinson and are fantastic to converse with.

On studying abroad:

In the fall of my junior year I studied abroad at Dickinson’s program in Bremen, Germany. There were so many highlights of my experience, as I got to live in a flat with five German students, join a German swimming team, travel a lot and improve my German. My most memorable experience, however, was experiencing the festivities of Oktoberfest in Munich. I first learned about it at the age of 13 when I started taking German, so it was amazing to finally experience it in-person.

If I could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, it would be …

Diana, Princess of Wales.

About my internship:

The summer after my sophomore year, I was fortunate enough to intern at UPMC Pinnacle in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. This internship appealed to me because it is a partnership with Dickinson that gives Dickinson pre-health students the chance to shadow medical staff in eight different areas of a hospital. The internship on-site coordinator, Dr. Thomas Pineo ’92, is a Dickinson alumnus as well. From this experience, I enhanced my communication skills and learned to ask questions for just about everything. Most importantly, having this experience gave me a taste of what my future career could look like.

About my research:

Before we were sent home [to finish the spring semester remotely, in response to the spread of the  coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic], I had started researching with Assistant Professor of Chemistry Jason Gavenonis in the biochemistry department at Dickinson. Our project focuses on the expression of pteridine reductase mutants, in which we research the PTR1 protein and its tendency to give way to tropical diseases from parasites. Ultimately, we would like to mutate the protein to prevent these diseases from developing. I asked Professor Gavenonis if I could do research with him because I knew he was a great professor and I was very interested in his research. I also wanted to gain more lab experience. I am constantly learning more about this project, and I get to apply my teamwork skills from swimming to the lab.

The best thing about my Dickinson experience:

Without a doubt, the best thing about my Dickinson experience has been my participation on the swimming team. I am extremely humbled to have the opportunity to represent Dickinson at the collegiate level of swimming, and I am eternally grateful for meeting my best friends for life on the team. From an excellent coaching staff led by Coach Paul Richards to our supportive and caring teammates, there is no better group of people to be around for me. It has completely changed my life.

Post-Dickinson plans:

My post-Dickinson plans are to take a gap year or two after graduation and do research or work. Then I plan on attending medical school to hopefully become a pediatrician. I would love to do pro bono work for disadvantaged children around the globe in my spare time.  

Advice for incoming students:

Don’t be afraid to pursue the resources that you have at Dickinson. There are so many people here that want to and will help you succeed. Dickinson has an amazing community of people who will support you in any way possible.

Proudest accomplishment:

Being able to be on the premed track, swim at the collegiate level, and study abroad. I’m proud that I’ve been able to successfully pursue these opportunities at Dickinson, where they are not only offered but encouraged. It really speaks to the unique kind of education and experiences offered at Dickinson.

Read more Student Snapshots.


Published June 22, 2020