Who's Who: Brittany Thomas
- Student practices what she preaches
- Trail-blazing senior has a passion for film
- Senior double major enjoys adventure on and off the Hill
While some students on the Hill remain unsure about their plans after college, Brittany Thomas '10 decided upon her intended path while working in her high school geochemistry laboratory in Plymouth, Massachusetts. As a biochemistry major, Thomas has had a plethora of opportunities to conduct research. Her subject matter of choice, however, has always been cholera.
Cholera is a bacterial disease of the small intestine that often arises as a result of poor sanitation in underdeveloped countries. "I've been working in the lab since I was a freshman," Thomas says. "Our lab is interested in the dissemination and spread of antibiotic resistance. I worked on looking at binding proteins and [factors] that cause things to bind in the environment. We characterize what mechanisms bacteria use to survive in the environment." Thomas and a few other students conduct research in the laboratory under the direction of Professor of Biology Frank Fekete. "We're interested in pathogens. We're trying to look at how they interact with the host in humans and how they interact with the environment," Thomas explains.
Although she is a dedicated Colby Dancer, Thomas admits that she spends much of her time on campus in the lab. Her time spent researching has also carried over into the past two summers in the lab on campus, working on her findings. However, her dedication for her work has certainly paid off. "I presented the binding proteins that we found in aquatic bacteria to the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory Symposium at the end of my sophomore year," Thomas says, a prestigious accomplishment for an undergraduate student. She also spent her junior year at Dartmouth College, and will return there after her senior year on the Hill to complete the dual-degree in an engineering program. "I worked in a cholera lab [at Dartmouth] as well. They're more interested in the pathogenic factors and what causes it to be virulent."
A self-described "huge science nerd," Thomas has been a teacher's assistant for a general chemistry course at the College. "I've always loved science. It just makes sense." To incoming students interested in the science fields, Thomas recommends that they enroll in Biology 451: Applied and Environmental Microbiology in the spring semester. "That's where a lot of freshmen start off. Everyone does their own independent project. It's a research-based class, and a great way to get started in research," Thomas says.
According to Thomas, the two best things about being a senior are knowing where the hidden keys are in the science buildings and realizing all the times that you should visit the dining halls. When she isn't breaking into laboratories, Thomas enjoys running, dance parties, spending time with friends and brewing her own beer--a perk of knowing your way around the lab. After graduating and finishing her extra year at Dartmouth, Thomas intends to begin conducting some type of scientific research. She plans to "just wait for that path to be there" for her before she decides on a specific career in the field that she loves.