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Daniel Smith

Community College: Kellogg Community College

Hometown: Tekonsha, MI

High School: Home Schooled

Major at Hope: Biology

What do you find exciting or interesting about your major?

For me, studying biology is exciting because I get to learn about the amazing diversity that exists among living organisms, while simultaneously learning about similarities (both anatomical and physiological) that demonstrate that this incredible diversity is governed, at a very fundamental level, by ubiquitous principles that allow all organisms to exist on our planet.

What are your career plans at this time?

I am in the beginning stages of applying to medical school, which is my true passion in pursuing my undergraduate degree. However, the opportunity that I have had to participate in laboratory research here at Hope has definitely increased the likelihood of my pursuing research, either in the context of clinical studies in or after medical school, or as a secondary career option.

Describe your summer research project.

This summer I worked with Dr. Leah Chase of the biology department here at Hope. My research sought to describe a mechanism by which cells respond to potentially damaging levels of free radicals (primarily hydrogen peroxide), ultimately by upregulating the synthesis of the antioxidant glutathione. More specifically, I studied the intracellular signal transduction pathways that control how a particular amino acid transporter (named System xc-) moves from intracellular storage vesicles to the cell membrane. When System xc- moves to the cell membrane, it can transport antioxidant precursors (e.g., the amino acid dimer cystine) into cells in response to elevated levels of free radicals.

What are some of your favorite activities outside of your school work?

As a science major at Hope, I don’t find myself having tons of spare time just lying around. However, I am a lover of fine music (particularly classical), and in addition to participating in the Hope College Chapel Choir and taking private voice lessons, I relish the opportunity to head up to Grand Rapids to hear the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra perform on occasion throughout the school year. Other favorite activities include biking (Holland has many great trails for biking and walking), beach time (in the summer of course), going to the occasional movie, and hanging out with friends. 

What were some influences on your decision to attend Hope?

Probably the thing that initially attracted me to Hope was the fact that they offered this incredible scholarship to transfer students from community colleges who were interested in majoring in a science or math (S-STEM). Additionally, the opportunity to attend a small school like Hope where I would be more than a number on a professor’s roster was a great deciding factor for me in choosing between Hope and a larger state school. Yet another critical factor that influenced my decision to come to Hope was its reputation for preparing students for professional and graduate schools, particularly in the health and science fields. These factors, in conjunction with the outstanding undergraduate research program that Hope is known for nationwide, were among some of the main ones that influenced my decision to transfer to Hope.