Samuel Schneider ’13 is currently a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in Stanford University’s chemistry department, pursuing a passion that he says was “solidified” through his research and leadership opportunities at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.
“Looking back at my four years at HWS, nearly all my experiences and the people I interacted with helped prepare me for my Ph.D.,” says Schneider. “The diverse courses, close student-teacher interactions and amazing leadership opportunities during my time at HWS have provided me a unique perspective with which to approach a career in science.”
At Stanford, Schneider is working in the lab of Steven G. Boxer, the Camille Dreyfus Professor of Chemistry, “studying and quantifying the physical forces underlying enzyme catalysis to gain an understanding of the physical origins and mechanism by which a protein structure gives rise to complex intermolecular interactions that are essential for life.” Schneider’s project is designed to test the relationship between the evolution of a protein and the strength of its electric field, with the goal of designing and engineering new proteins for applications in medicine.
At HWS, Schneider conducted research under the guidance of Assistant Professor of Chemistry Kristin Slade, which served as the basis for his Honor’s thesis, and also his application for the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship – the premier undergraduate award in the field of mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering – which Schneider was awarded in 2012.
“Having the opportunity to work side-by-side with Professor Slade, planning and conducting experiments, pursuing and testing hypotheses, mentoring fellow students and presenting my research at national and regional conferences were influential in giving me the experience and confidence necessary to pursue my Ph.D. and follow my passion for science,” Schneider reflects.
Schneider also credits his experience as a Chemistry Teaching Fellow and Lead Teaching Fellow in the Center for Teaching and Learning for giving him the skillset to effectively communicate “ideas, theories and perspectives” within the scientific community and with the general public – something that Schneider considers one of the “biggest hurdles in science.”
Likewise, the ability to take courses outside the scope of chemistry allowed Schneider to approach scientific problems with a “greater breadth of knowledge.” His experience studying abroad in Copenhagen also allowed him to bring a “global” perspective to his research.
Schneider intends to pursue a career in academia after completing his Ph.D., hoping to promote his passion for both teaching and enabling students to explore the “process of scientific discovery and research,” similar to his own experiences.