Melvin ’18 Pursues Chemistry Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Melvin ’18 Pursues Chemistry Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins

After Commencement this spring, Sophia Melvin ’18 will head from Geneva to Baltimore, Md., where she will continue her studies at the renowned Johns Hopkins University Ph.D. program in chemistry.

Listed among the top 25 in the country by U.S. News & World Report, the program “is highly interdisciplinary, which was incredibly important to me after my experiences here at HWS,” says Melvin, who expects her research at Johns Hopkins to span everything from electrochemistry to polymer synthesis. “I’m really looking forward to being in the lab and getting my hands dirty. I’m excited to be able to do research every day at an intensive level.”

Originally intending to pursue an English major, Melvin enrolled in a chemistry class during her first semester at the Colleges and “realized that chemistry itself is very much like language,” she says. “What I love about chemistry is that it’s one of the few disciplines where you create what you study.”

After taking organic chemistry, she was hooked. “After being in the lab with my adviser [Professor of Chemistry] Erin Pelkey, there was very much a moment of ‘This is what I want to do.’ There is truly an art to it,” Melvin says.

“Coupling strong undergraduate research experience with a grounding in the liberal arts helps foster the development of critical thinking and problem solving that allows a student to excel in graduate school,” says Pelkey. “Sophie has taken full advantage of her opportunities for professional and personal development at HWS.”

On campus, Melvin is captain of the cross-country team, a chair for Relay for Life, lead chemistry teaching fellow and a Writing Fellow. She has conducted summer research at the Colleges since her sophomore year, collaborating with Pelkey on research into anti-cancerous compounds. In 2017, she was awarded the Hills/Franks Prize for her work in chemistry and has spent the past two academic years working on her Honors project, which she discussed in her recent Senior Symposium presentation, “Everything Is Awesome: Failure in Pursuit of Anti-Cancerous Analog Syntheses as Told through a LEGO Analogy.”