Annika Velez (Class of 2022)

What are you doing for your research project?

My research in the Calter lab is focused on both the synthesis of analogs of rocaglamide—a natural anti-cancer compound—and the use of molecular dynamics to predict binding energies of different analogs to their cellular targets.

Why did you choose to major in CIS?

I find myself at the interface between Chemistry and Molecular Biology. I really enjoy studying the physical interactions between molecules in the body, and majoring in CIS allowed me to explore classes in Biology and Molecular Biology and Biochemistry that supplemented that interest. I also am heavily involved in research which is a big component of the CIS program. Because my research is inherently interdisciplinary—mixing chemistry with computational and molecular biology—the CIS program was a great match for my academic trajectory.

What activities do you do on campus?

I am an officer in the Free Radicals (the Chemistry Major group) and a leader in PINOY (the Wesleyan Filipino Student’s Association). I currently work as a Chemical Hygiene Assistant in the Chemistry Department, and I formerly worked as a student worker in the Office of Admissions. I also previously played bassoon in the Wesleyan University Orchestra.

What are your plans after graduation?

My hope is to obtain a Master’s degree in Chemistry before entering industry. After a couple of years in industry I plan on re-evaluating my career trajectory to see if I would need to obtain a PhD or potentially a JD. A career in intellectual property law or science policy is appealing to me.

How did the CIS-linked major help you at Wesleyan and how do you think it is preparing you for life after Wesleyan?

It encouraged me to explore my interests outside of chemistry, and it made me think about how knowledge from other sciences like biology or molecular biology could help me in my research and studies. It’s so important to utilize multiple areas in science in addressing global issues, so this exercise in integrating sciences has undoubtedly prepared me to think about how we can address problems in society in this integrative way.