Inquisitive and Expressive

jillian dunbar

Jillian Dunbar '14

by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson

Biochemistry & molecular-biology major Jillian Dunbar '14 combines two passions—arts and science—in interesting ways. A John Dickinson scholar, Dunbar satisfies her creative side as managing editor of an alternative newspaper and as president of Dickinson's music-event-planning committee and student-dance group. She's also taking part in student-faculty research related to mouse and human genetics, and she's preparing for a career in medical illustration.

Clubs and organizations: 

President, Multi-Organizational Board and Dance Theatre Group; managing editor, the square; member, Alpha Lambda Delta.

Favorite book:

At the moment, any of Khaled Hosseini’s novels, especially And the Mountains Echoed.

Favorite movie:

Away We Go. Hands down.

Little-known talent:

I did competitive Scottish-highland dance for seven years when I was growing up, competing in almost every state along the East Coast.

On deciding to attend Dickinson:

My grandmother [Lynn Hammond Voss '62]  is an alumna and suggested that I apply. The first time I visited, the campus, with its limestone walls and historic markers, felt like home. The people were warm—even though the weather wasn’t—and everything seemed to fit into my idea of the perfect school. I made up my mind then.

Favorite place on campus:

Any of the study alcoves in the Rector Science Complex.

Favorite Dining Hall food:

Mac and cheese!

Why I major in biochemistry & molecular biology:

I initially wanted to go to medical school to become a pediatrician, and the biochemistry & molecular-biology major fulfilled those requirements. Since then I’ve found that I especially enjoy biology classes that focus on genetics and cell mechanisms.

Favorite project:

My favorite project has been the genetics research I’ve been conducting with [Assistant Professor of Biology] Tiffany Frey. Since last spring, I’ve been working on creating clones with mouse or human genes to determine how CD14, a gene responsible for the inflammatory response, is comparably regulated in both organisms. It’s been amazing getting to work so closely with a young, new faculty member who is so passionate about the material she teaches.

As a kid. I wanted to be . . .

A veterinarian—and an artist on the side. But when I think about my childhood, I can recall so many times that I chose to draw over doing any other sort of activity.

On bridging art and science:

I’ve always loved art, and I've been able to develop those skills with practice. Once I got to Dickinson, I took [Associate Professor of Art] Ward Davenny's drawing courses. Now, I hope to get my master’s in medical illustration so I can combine my love for art and science into a career. The medical-illustration field is constantly changing—new surgical technologies are always being developed and books continue to be updated—and with technological advancements, the field of digital illustration keeps growing.

In a perfect world . . . 

There would be more hours in the day for all that I need to do—and also for all I want to do, like trying new things, talking with the people I care about and drawing the things that amaze me.

Read about Jillian's recent biology research at the Biology Research Symposium.

View more Student Snapshot profiles.

Published December 5, 2013