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Student Snapshot: Keagan Hesse '22

Keagan Hesse '22

A biology class inspired Keagan Hesse ’22 (biochemistry & molecular biology) to plan a career in oncology. As an undergrad, he’s getting a head start on that path as a student-researcher, helping to advance our understanding of how to treat a common form of leukemia.


Carlisle, Pennsylvania.


Biochemistry & molecular biology.


Fencing Club, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Bio Buddies, Dickinson College Jazz Band and Dickinson College Orchestra.


Horace E. Rogers Scholarship and Dean's List.

Favorite book:

The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee.

Favorite movie:

La La Land.

Best thing about my Dickinson experience:

The people. I have met so many amazing people at this school. They’re not just friendly but also incredibly smart and talented as well.

Best thing about my major:

It is such a small major, so the higher-level classes are much smaller, which means I get to interact with my professors much more personally. Also, the professors are so friendly and open to talk anytime you want and about just about anything.

On choosing Dickinson:

I chose to transfer to Dickinson because I wanted to be challenged in my classes, and also because of the professional connections I knew I would be able to make by going here.

Favorite space on campus:

The outdoor space in front of Rector.

Favorite class so far:

Associate Professor of Biology Mike Roberts' 400-level Biology of Cancer class. This class helped to solidify my desire to be an oncologist, or cancer researcher, after Dickinson.

Favorite professor:

Professor Roberts.

Favorite off-campus spot:

Grand Illusion.

Little-known hobby/talent:

As a kid, I wanted to be …

… a marine biologist, so I could study orcas.

Post-Dickinson plans:

I plan to intern at Lonza Biotech during the summer following graduation. After my gap year, I would like to attend medical school to become an oncologist.

Proudest accomplishment so far:

When one of my professors told me that I had some of the best scientific writing skills she had ever seen.

About my internship:

This past summer I interned in research and development at Lonza Pharma and Biotech in Walkersville, Maryland. The Walkersville site focuses on methods of detecting bacterial endotoxin which is responsible for 70% of sepsis cases in hospitals today. Here I learned not just about scientific research methods and biochemical pathways but also about working with a team and how important it is to like those you work with. We were all friends and would regularly go out to eat or meet up on weekends to hang out, and that cohesion was reflected in our work.

About my research:

I am working in Professor Roberts' lab, researching AML, a common form of leukemia. I focus on a specific gene and how it functions in the transformation from a normal cell to a cancerous cell. This research will hopefully help us to understand how we can genetically reprogram AML cells to return to their normal, noncancerous functions.

Most important thing I’ve learned so far:

How important it is to make connections. I got my internship at Lonza because of a chance encounter with the manager of RND, who just so happens to be a Dickinson alum. She's now helping me get a lab position during my gap year. None of that could've happened if I hadn’t transferred to Dickinson.

Read more Student Snapshots.


Published November 23, 2021