After biology major Ken Baumann completed his sophomore year and headed into his first summer internship at the Brookhaven National Laboratory, he was considering becoming a doctor. But having recently completed his third internship there, he's realized he can do more good as a researcher.
"Of course doctors are very helpful," he says. "But doctors can only help one person at a time, more or less. If I can figure out a protein that can make a new antibiotic and have that antibiotic mass-produced, I'm helping thousands, if not millions, at a time."
During his internships, Baumann worked on crystallizing proteins so other scientists could see their three-dimensional structures and get clues about how they function within an organism. With this structural understanding, scientists can develop treatments that target specific weaknesses within pathogens like viruses and bacteria.
Crystallizing is a complicated process because each culture plate can have a multitude of different conditions, but Baumann successfully crystallized two proteins, each listed in the National Protein Databank with his name. "It's arduous work, but with the potential payoff in the end, it's totally worth it," he says.
Last Updated: 12/9/12