Chemical physics major Clare Munroe ’18 has joined a lab at the University of Pennsylvania, researching ways of predicting the severity of breast cancer in both animals and humans. Her eventual goal is to attend University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine and become a small animal vet. Here she describes the path she took to get there.
Tell me about the video game that inspired you.
I always loved animals and received the game Paws and Claws: Pet Vet for my 11th birthday. In the game, you started with one building, in which you could treat rabbits and birds. If you did a good job, the pet owners were happy and gave you money. The money could be used for "education" which allowed you to treat more animals, like cats, dogs, and horses; it could also be used to buy outbuildings, which gave more diagnosis and treatment flexibility, like ultrasounds, or physical therapy. I still play occasionally when I have a little time to kill.
How did you choose chemical physics as your major? What were the most important skills you learned from taking those classes within your major as well as those outside chemistry?
I just started taking classes that I enjoyed, and they ended up being a lot of physics and chemistry classes. As I learned more about both subjects, I found that they really synergized and was able to get a deeper understanding of both chemistry and physics by understanding the other. The most important skill I learned in any of my classes is how to organize information and internalize it in a meaningful way.
Major: Chemical physics
Hometown: Wayne, Pa.
High School: Conestoga High School
How did you get connected with the research lab at Penn and what will you be doing there?
I knew I wanted to live in Pennsylvania so I could apply to Penn Vet as a resident, so I emailed the principal investigators of a few labs at Penn that were doing research that I found interesting. The lab I ended up with is doing research on canine mammary tumors, trying to find ways to diagnose the severity of a tumor so they can be treated just aggressively enough to eliminate the cancer.
What did your shadowing experiences involve at the vet practices?
I've shadowed at two small animal clinics and the lab animal facility at Janssen R&D, where I observed the day-to-day routines and procedures. These included exams, drawing blood, administering medicines, ultrasounds, surgeries, and autopsies. My contact with animals was minimal for liability reasons, but I assisted with running tests, organizing files, cleaning equipment, and monitoring recovering animals.
Did any Hamilton faculty, alumni, or others help guide you toward your post-graduation plans?
I did summer research with (Assistant Professor of Physics) Kristen Burson at the Fritz Haber Institute in Berlin, and working there with her and all of the other talented people made me want to pursue research as well as veterinary medicine.
Where do you see yourself in the future, career-wise?
My eventual goal is to attend University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine and then become a small animal vet. Right now I have so many different things I'm interested in, so I'm not really sure what I'll end up doing. I'm currently considering general practice, surgery, emergency care, and research, or some combination.