Hannah Slater, Outstanding Student Research Award

Majors: Bachelor of Science in chemistry, Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering

Minors: Mathematics and the Randall Research Scholars Program

Hometown: New Lenox, Illinois

Favorite Experience at UA: My favorite experience of being at The University of Alabama has been the opportunity to be at The University of Alabama. Here, I have been graced with many different opportunities and had the opportunity to meet many amazing people.
I was originally drawn to The University of Alabama because of the stellar undergraduate research being conducted here. Since my freshman year, I have had the opportunity to participate in a variety of research projects. My most significant work has been with Dr. David A. Dixon, who is Robert Ramsay Chair of Chemistry. My research in the Dixon group focuses on the hydrogen bonding interaction between drugs and amino acids using computational chemistry approaches. Through these projects, I have been able to pursue my passion for research, connect with others with similar research interests, and receive recognition as a 2020 Goldwater Scholar. I really enjoy learning more about what drives people to pursue research in their career.
In addition to being able to conduct amazing research on campus, I have had the opportunity to meet others on campus who are similarly passionate about research through the Randall Research Scholars (RRS) program. Here, I have been able to serve both as mentor and a director of the RRS PRO research dimension. I always enjoy interacting with those who are currently pursuing their research interests and hearing their passion as they speak. Being an interdisciplinary program, I thoroughly appreciate being able to learn more about research outside of my own and be able to critically think about the ramifications of other’s research on my own.
When I am not conducting research, I enjoy serving others both in leadership positions around campus and doing community service. I have had the honor of being president of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and the Biomedical Engineering Society on campus. I also have been able to serve my residents in my role as resident advisor. Additionally, through different community service roles, including volunteering at DCH, I have had the opportunity to connect with others. I relish anytime I can listen and learn more about others. During these moments, I always hope to see if there is any way I can help them.
Overall, all these experiences have been my favorite because although to the naked eye, they can seem so different, I have had the opportunity to experience them and be able to connect them to one another. I have thoroughly enjoyed each of the diverse experiences and people I have had the opportunity to experience and meet here at The University of Alabama. Being here has truly allowed me to learn and understand more about the greater world around us.
I am so thankful for the family, friends, mentors, and The University of Alabama who have helped foster my personal and professional aspirations throughout the years. Thank you.

Favorite Class: The question of my favorite class is a difficult one as I truly love to learn in order to better understand how the world works. I find that each of my classes offers a unique perspective on the world, and thus I thoroughly enjoy each of my classes. However, if I had to pick one, it would be my medicinal chemistry class (CH 405) I took in Spring 2020.
In this class, I had the opportunity to apply many of the topics that I have learned in other classes and projects in a unique way. To me, this simple chemistry class was the synthesis of many of my favorite classes and when explaining it to others outside the class, I jokingly referred to it as “organic chemistry with math. This class, however, was much more than that.
I had the opportunity to apply the understanding and problem-solving I gained from my organic chemistry class. This was then coupled with piecing together my knowledge about the biochemical environment from my biochemistry and biology classes with my research projects. I also had the opportunity to think more broadly about how these medicines are manufactured using my chemical engineering degree. Throughout the class, I was thinking critically about current and future research endeavors and what it all means in the era of COVID-19.
Medicinal chemistry has always been a topic that has piqued my interest from a young age when my best friend was diagnosed with cancer. At the time, I did not know anything about medicine and pharmaceuticals, but I strove to learn more in hopes of being able to help my friend. My friend thankfully survived cancer and I gained an immense passion for learning more about medical research, specifically cancer research. Hence, when I saw this class offered at UA, I was excited at the opportunity to learn more about this topic in a classroom setting as all my prior knowledge was self-guided and informed.
This class allowed me to not only piece together knowledge I have learned from my other classes at the University of Alabama, but to combine my personal research endeavors with my passion to help others through medical research. I learned how to think more critically about medicinal chemistry both in the research realm and its place in broader society. This class has also personally shaped my outlook on what my personal role is in the realm of medicine and medical research.

Future Plans: Receive an M.D. and a Ph.D. in Biomedical Informatics. Conduct clinical computational oncology research while directing a lab at the university level.