Science Stories is an ongoing series launched by the authors of the Science Society blog which unearths the experiences of Science Students at Carleton.
EBUBE OKAFOR: Hi Imane, thank you for taking the time out of your schedule to do this interview.
IMANE R: Yeah, sure.
OKAFOR: I guess we should start. How did you become interested in biochemistry?
IMANE R: I got interested in biochemistry in high school. I had amazing science teachers who showed me just how interesting and fun science is! I really enjoyed chemistry, and had a slight interest in biology, so I figured why not biochemistry?
IMANE R: I didn’t want to do pure chemistry — a chemistry major sounded a little too scary to be completely honest.
OKAFOR: I can understand that. Somehow the ‘bio’ in biochemistry makes it
seem more approachable. I hope that biochemistry proved to be the less daunting option.
OKAFOR: With what you know now, what did you wish you knew before picking your program?
IMANE R: I wish I knew just how much time and effort I was going to have to put into my program. Biochemistry is not an easy program and requires a lot of studying and requires you to be very good at time management as assignments and tests never stop.
IMANE R: So, as much as I love and enjoy my program, I do wish I knew what I was getting myself into. Most importantly, I wish I knew just how much organic chemistry I would have to do.
OKAFOR: Organic chemistry is the bane of most science students’ existence. I can’t imagine doing it for more than two semesters!
OKAFOR: You must have someone inspiring you to get you through all the hardship. Do you have any role models?
IMANE R: I have a couple of role models in the field that are guiding me in my career goals. Many of them are professors I have had. It’s amazing to see how passionate they are about the topics they teach, and about the research they do. I am quite interested in research, so seeing how excited some professors get about the work they do is very motivating. I also consider my own friends my role models. I have a few friends in biochemistry and seeing how they always work hard and persevere has made me want to continue to do the same and work just as hard.
OKAFOR: love seeing friends push each other to be better. That, and it seems that the biochemistry faculty is quite passionate. It sounds like you’re surrounded by many inspiring people.
OKAFOR: I wonder if that was a draw for you. Did you choose to study biochemistry at Carleton for a specific reason?
IMANE R: I chose to study at Carleton because I really liked the campus and the atmosphere of the university. I had visited Carleton before, and I really liked it; I liked how it’s kind of isolated, and how it’s like its own little town. I’ve also heard great things about the program at Carleton and about the professors, and due to the many research opportunities Carleton offers, I figured Carleton was the better choice for me as I am quite interested in research.
IMANE R: And of course, the most important reason was the tunnels—because who wants to walk outside in the freezing cold?
OKAFOR: Haha, yeah the tunnels are very useful, especially during winter. I think that’s one thing we will always have over other universities in the area.
OKAFOR: In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I must ask this as my last question ... Do you agree or disagree with this statement: love is just a chemical reaction in your brain.
IMANE R: I think to a certain degree it is a chemical reaction that occurs in the brain. When you feel happy and in love, chemicals such as dopamine and oxytocin are released. I think it’s important to know that those reactions occur because it is important to understand how the brain works.
IMANE R: But I am also a big believer in that not everything has to have an exact explanation especially feelings as those can be quite subjective—what you feel is what you feel. I think love is more complex and bigger than just a chemical reaction that occurs in the brain. While a chemical reaction does occur, it’s also something you feel which I don’t think always requires an explanation.