Bulldog Bites

News and Views from the University of Redlands

Insatiable curiosity, infinite possibility

Biochemistry major Rowan Glover ’24, was at a crossroads.

“I was having a crisis of faith in biology,” Rowan said. Having always been interested in science, Rowan began U of R knowing she would major in biochemistry. In the spring of her sophomore year, she began to enjoy organic chemistry and decided to examine her overall academic journey, including the limitations of research and what her graduate school applications might look like. In doing so, she had become unsure whether to pursue her research capstone in chemistry or biology.

“Then Dr. David Soulsby reached out to me about help with finishing the project he had been working on over sabbatical,” Rowan said.

Along with a seminar course and tutoring, Rowan gladly accepted the opportunity to join Soulsby on the project titled, The Development of New Sugar Chemistry That Can Be Used to Produce Innovative Medicines, in the fall of 2023. The research involves the study of carbohydrates and finding new methods of synthesis with sugars, which can make less toxic treatment drugs on a larger scale. While working on the project, Rowan realized that she wanted to continue organic chemistry research.

“Research is not easy,” said Soulsby, the chemistry professor whose research project is now benefitting from Rowan’s interest. “That is the nature of discovering new reactions and making new molecules that have never been made before. Rowan is one of the smartest and most hardworking students I’ve had as a research student in the nearly 25 years that I’ve been teaching at Redlands.”

The duo’s efforts paid off with their research being published.

“I was doing summer research through Loma Linda University School of Medicine’s SURF program when I had gotten that email (about being published),” Rowan said. “I had to call my mom and I was like ‘Hey, I got my paper published, do you want to see it?’ While being a little teary-eyed, she said something along the lines of ‘That’s amazing, congratulations, and I am so proud of you!’”

For undergraduate students to make contributions in the lab, they must be trained by faculty. This process can take an extensive amount of time at larger institutions, where graduate students are working full-time as professional scientists and undergraduate students aren’t afforded one-on-one time with faculty.

“It's extremely rare for undergraduates to get published,” said Dr. Michael Ferracane, associate professor of chemistry, and department chair. Ferracane has had Rowan in several of his chemistry classes.

“It speaks volumes about her ability, that she's able to make a significant contribution and help him [Soulsby] finish that [research] up. It’s a cool opportunity for her and it’s a good resume builder.”

A Redlands native, Rowan attributes success to working closely with faculty, an accessible opportunity for all U of R students.

“Everybody pretty much has a door open policy,” Rowan said. “That's what I really like about small places like this, it's more personable.”

Rowan sees Redlands small classroom size as “one of the benefits of coming here.” Compared to a larger institution with 100-person lectures, Redlands faculty will, “come find you if they have something that they think is cool for you to do.”

In addition to her success in the lab, Rowan is a talented saxophonist, minoring in music. The unlikely combination of music and science has led her to many pleasant interactions on campus, including “hallway advising” sessions with fellow students at the Conservatory of Music and School of Performing Arts.

“The student community here is really nice for that,” Rowan said about sharing classroom experiences and interests. “I had juniors and seniors who would help me with pretty much anything (as an underclassman). Really good student community here.”

As commencement looms, Rowan’s sights are set on one of the seven graduate schools she’s been accepted to. Her advice to students coming to Redlands is simple; “If you want to do something, just do it. Don't be afraid to. This is what can happen. These are the possibilities. These are the opportunities that are open to you.”

Click to learn more about admission and the chemistry program.