A chemical change

May 26th, 2014

Kelly Foss

A chemical change

Jennifer Smith is on the verge.

The Mount Pearl resident graduates this month from Memorial with an honours degree in chemistry and a minor in math. This fall, she begins a new and eagerly anticipated academic adventure at the university, the start of medical school.

Her current supervisor in the Department of Chemistry, Dr. Christopher Rowley, thinks she’s more than ready for the challenge.

“Jennifer really made the most of her undergraduate experience at Memorial,” he said. “She excelled in her courses and earned almost every scholarship offered by the chemistry department. She also became involved in research through scholarships from Memorial’s Student Work and Services Program (SWASP), The Faculty of Science Undergraduate Research Awards (SURA), and the federal government’s Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRA).

“She has a real gift for scientific research and she was able to publish two papers as a result,” he added. “This is an extraordinary achievement.”

A graduate of O’Donel High School, Ms. Smith got her first taste of life at Memorial when she participated in the Women In Science and Engineering (WISE-NL) Student Summer Employment Program the summer before her Grade 12 year. 

It led her to spend two summers doing research with Dr. Chris Kozak and Dr. Fran Kerton, which cemented her desire to study chemistry.

“I really liked physics and chemistry in high school and when I heard about WISE I wanted to come to Memorial to check out the science and engineering programs,” said Ms. Smith. “My research experience in Chris and Fran’s group further broadened my interest which led me to pursue a chemistry degree.”

Not only is Ms. Smith a high academic achiever, but she’s also very engaged in the community locally and at the university. She performs in two local choirs and volunteers with St. John’s Ambulance and at St. Clare’s Hospital. In her free time she enjoys kickboxing and running.

“I’ve been volunteering since high school and have found the experience extremely rewarding,” she said. ‘It’s been enjoyable meeting new people and the gratitude of patients has further motivated me to be able to do more for them by pursuing medicine.”

While at Memorial she has also been involved with the Chemistry Society – most recently as co-president – something she highly recommends to all incoming students.

“It’s a great chance to get to know everyone in your class that share common interests. It adds a fun and sociable experience which helps to mediate the demands of academia.”

Despite all the hard work ahead, Ms. Smith says she’s ready for a change. She’s enjoyed the past four years in chemistry and is looking forward to meeting a whole new class of fellow students and her professors.

At the moment she is considering specializing in anesthesiology or radiology and hopes to stay in the province after graduation.


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