Rachel Yerden '19, BS Biology and Chemical Engineering
Hometown: Redfield, N.Y.

When I was looking at schools, Clarkson was one of my top choices. I knew I would get a great education. But my decision to study here was based on something different, something that I felt during my first campus visit.

Clarkson was more welcoming than any other college I had considered. I mean, to be on a university campus as a senior in high school and have professors willing — in fact, wanting — to talk to you? That’s rare. You can’t get that everywhere.

At most major research universities, it’s also rare for undergraduates to get what I really wanted: hands-on work in a real research laboratory. Clarkson actually embraces the undergraduate research experience.

I grew up on a farm, where my interest in science, especially biology, began. One of my first summer jobs was in a research lab at a factory where they were building oxygen-regulating machines. It was such a great experience that I decided to continue down the science and research path.

The best thing that has happened for me at Clarkson is my research position in the biology department with Professor Thomas Lufkin and Assistant Professor Petra Kraus. Since I’ve been here, they’ve nurtured my interests and helped me develop projects that support my double major, chemical engineering and biology.

At most major research universities, it’s also rare for undergraduates to get what I really wanted: hands-on work in a real research laboratory. Clarkson actually embraces the undergraduate research experience.

Rachel Yerden '19, BS Biology and Chemical Engineering

Rachel Yerden Quote

They’ve been my mentors through everything. Every question I have, I take to them first because I know they have my best interests in mind.

Their work is in the area of regenerative medicine for degenerative disease — specifically, lower back pain and disc injuries. My research with them has been on RNA detection technology. We’ve used disc cells from cow tails to quantify and qualify gene expression at the single-cell level. The exact description of a healthy cell gives a baseline for cellular changes.

Professor Kraus has been right in the lab with me, working one-on-one with me and providing constant encouragement. It’s been amazing.

I have learned so much about lab work and research. I’ve even been a co-author on two peer-reviewed publications; on one, I’m co-first author with Professor Kraus. I’ve been told that the research experience I’ve gained in nearly three years as an undergraduate at Clarkson is more extensive than what some graduate students achieve in their entire PhD training.

I’m working on my class list for next semester, when I’ll be studying abroad in Australia at Monash University, one of the best chemical engineering schools in the world.

Clarkson makes the tools for your life accessible. It’s the only school I know of that lets students coach a DIII league team. I’m coach and captain of our rugby team. We placed first in the league this year, and I’ve ended up a much better leader.

I even started a snowshoe racing club at Clarkson. I had been talking about snowshoe racing — which I love — and the reaction was, “Oh yeah, that’s amazing; try it! Just about anything goes here.”

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