Curious by Nature

Anu Asnani

Selorm Tamakloe

Research Associate

Selorm Tamakloe grew up in Ghana with plans to become a pediatrician. While completing her bachelor’s in biochemistry and dance, she decided to get a taste of graduate school before applying to medical school.

She was intrigued by the UW Master of Science in Applied Chemical Science & Technology. “I wanted to challenge myself,” said Selorm. “The master’s program was a way to learn more about the sciences, expand my skill set and prove to myself and to medical school that I can handle graduate-level courses.”

Today, the 2021 grad is working as a research associate, writing a scientific paper, and preparing to apply to medical school. In this Q&A, Selorm shares her experience in the program.


What skills and knowledge did you gain in the program?

We learned about different types of chemistry: theoretical chemistry, organic chemistry, advanced bio-organic chemistry and computational chemistry. I learned how to code and did a lot of data analysis. We also went into cloud computing and machine learning.

One of my first courses took place during the introduction of RNA-based vaccines during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. I learned the exact chemistry and mechanism behind the vaccines and why they worked, which helped me when I read about it in the news or talked about it with my friends.

What were your peers like?

In undergraduate chemistry, everyone was very cutthroat, and only looked out for themselves. Here, everyone was so human and willing to help each other. My core group would have calls where we’d discuss homework and explain various topics to each other.

In one class, we received homework assignments that took over three days to complete a single question. One of our classmates drafted an email for the professor, we all signed it and then our classmate sent it to the professor. The professor read our concerns then adjusted future assignments. It was great having peers share the same frustration, come together, and support a common goal. It was even better that the professor was willing to implement changes.

That’s so neat that the professor listened to your concerns. How were the professors overall?

The professors were fabulous and very accommodating. The professors made themselves available outside of the classroom. They offered to write recommendation letters and shared what it’s like to be a professional in their particular fields.

Could you describe the research aspect of the program?

Students could do research in a lab with professors or do employer-sponsored research. I opted to do employer-sponsored research because it was much more convenient for me since I was working full time in addition to school. I’ve officially graduated now, but I’m still working on my research project to get a paper published.

Would you describe your research project?

My research project looks at the effects of the CD101 gene variants on red blood cells inflammation and blood sugar. I take the datasets collected from the study, and with the help of a biostatistician, analyze it to determine if any correlation exist. We are trying to discover if CD101 variants makes individuals more susceptible to acquiring ailments. I use my python skills that I obtained from the program to analyze some of the data.

How has this program impacted your plans for medical school?

I worked with public health workers, medical doctors and MD/Ph.Ds. who do clinical rounds and conduct research. It’s neat seeing the potential paths in research that I could purse after medical school.

What would you say to someone interested in the master’s program?

I would definitely say to do it. It can be overwhelming, but it’s definitely great for people who are curious.