Lauren Davidson '16

Lauren Davidson ’16

Majors: chemistry, German studies

Minor: environmental science

Hometown: Yorba Linda, California

Awards and honors during your college career: President’s Fellow, language and culture studies; contributor, Trinity Papers; Deans’ Scholar for the Class of 2016; Faculty Honors; Albert E. Holland Memorial Scholar; state scholar for the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Science and Research; Baden-Württemberg Stiftung Scholar

Extracurricular activities: member, treasurer, Cleo of Alpha Chi Literary Society; barista, The Underground Coffeehouse; member, president, Trinity College German Club; member, visual arts manager, manager of silk-screening studio, creator of visual arts studio, The Mill; member, Trinity Chemical Society; dancer in swing, Ceilidh, belly dancing, salsa, and Irish step dancing

How would you describe yourself as a first-year student? Having moved from California to a completely new side of the country to study, I was ambitious and eager to take in as much as I could in my classes and new surroundings. I was already curious and focused, but I didn’t have the experience to know how to best apply all of those energies. It took some time before I learned to find balance for myself as a person, too.

How would you describe yourself now? Since then, I have applied that curiosity and seen the opportunities that emerge as a result. I am more adventurous and open, and I take care to learn from my everyday experiences and interactions — I love to have conversations with people and hear their ideas. That is how I began working at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems while I was studying in Germany for a year. Balancing majors in both the sciences and humanities, my efficiency has grown, and I am able to make more meaningful connections within my studies and also across the disciplines. Most notably, I have become more confident, with a stronger, clearer voice. Assertiveness is especially critical when you’re a woman in science.

Which course has been your favorite? Why? “Law and Environmental Policy” with Professor Joseph Chambers — in that seminar I discovered what I can do to apply my scientific training. We learned about the different governmental agencies that are responsible for the stewardship of our environment, as well as the legal and structural challenges that they face. All this instilled in me a greater appreciation for all the work it takes to afford us healthy communities and breathtaking national parks, forests, and monuments. I grew up camping and hiking in the western national parks, and I’ve been able to explore several new parks after moving East.

Lauren1Which professor has influenced you the most? Why? Certainly that would be Professor Tim Curran, who over the years has been my chemistry professor, my research adviser, my major adviser, and my inspiring mentor. I began working in his bioorganometallics lab through the Interdisciplinary Science Program as a first-year. At that time, I had not yet been exposed to much chemistry beyond general chemistry, but I was hooked within weeks of running reactions and puzzling out chemical structures from spectral data. I have been researching with Professor Curran ever since, including two summers, and the lab is filled with brilliant, vibrant people. The work in our lab is incredibly exciting, and I have had the opportunity to present my research at a number of symposia. We are currently in the midst of preparing some of this research for publication. Perhaps my favorite part of it all has been his readiness to answer any of the (sometimes bizarre) chemistry questions that I constantly ask him out of curiosity, and how those questions often turn into long conversations. I have learned so much from Professor Curran.

What is the most important thing you have learned at Trinity? Condensing so much experience into one thing is difficult, but I suppose it would be that life is not linear. Not only does change happen, but it is good when things don’t always go as you had planned. For me, life is about the whole experience and the genuine relationships that I share with people. If we always rush to reach some other goal, it can be easy to lose sight of the beauty in the present. I have learned to really evaluate what I want and what will challenge me to grow as a person, and I have the ambition to make it my own, to take a passion and run with it.

What has been most important to you outside of class? For me that has definitely been my friendships and being with people in general — in the Underground, on the quads, in Cleo, around Hartford, or in any place we find ourselves. I could not imagine my years at Trinity without the friends who have filled it, and I would have learned half as much.

What is your favorite Trinity memory … so far? Summer research is so fun! The campus clears out, leaving a few hundred research students, lush green trees humming with life, captivating thunderstorms, and long evenings to spend with my friends. We play soccer well after it has gotten dark, barbecue, talk, and have a great time overall. That community is really cohesive, and Alison Draper and Kathy Mallinson do an amazing job at organizing weekly events, speakers, and lunches for us. The summer field games all have a scientific twist and can get pretty competitive!

Where do you hope to be in 10 years? Ideally living in the Pacific Northwest, but it’s more about the places I want to have traveled in those 10 years! To have a job in which I could travel — perhaps partnering with a German research group or company — would be a dream, and I am working to be fluent in another language by then. That I want to do environmental work has always been a clear goal of mine, since it is my passion. I am considering opportunities as a scientist in governmental agencies and the private sector — whether it be research or environmental consulting, I hope to be working outdoors and shaping environmental innovation.