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Grace Rout Named 2024 Snyder Scholar for Excellence in Chemistry

Grace Rout

Written by Troi Watts

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign recently announced this year’s Snyder Scholars, which includes University of Indianapolis student Grace Rout ‘25 (Biology, Chemistry). 

The Snyder Scholar program, established by Harold R. Snyder, invites undergraduate students from across the country to spend 10-weeks on campus at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign working with their Department of Chemistry. 

“I’ll be working in a lab that’s mainly for synthetic biology, where they apply organic chemistry to synthetic biology, alongside one of their organic chemistry faculty,” explained Grace. “So, I will get to experience what it’s like to be a graduate student there. I’ll also have the opportunity to go to graduate level talks and hear what’s going on right now in the world of chemistry and biology.”

Grace learned about the program from her professor, Dr. Joe Burnell, who knew about her interest in organic chemistry and biochemistry. As part of the application process, Dr. Burnell provided a letter of recommendation for Grace, explaining how she would benefit from the program. 

“Grace has outstanding work habits and intellectual abilities. Her long-term goal is to become a scientist, so the Snyder Scholar program is important to her development,” said Dr. Burnell. 

Grace also received support from Rebecca Franks, career coach in the Stephen F. Fry Professional Edge Center, as she prepared her application materials.

“I go to Rebecca all the time,” said Grace. “She helped me with my resume, creating a curriculum vitae (CV), and deciding which I thought would be better for the Snyder Scholar program.”

Last summer, she participated in the Undergraduate Research Experience in Biomedical Sciences at the Indiana University School of Medicine, where she worked in a lab applying space biology and got an inside look at life as an IU graduate student. Grace hopes these summer experiences will help her discover which area of study – biology or chemistry – she would like to pursue further through a PhD program and into her career. 

“I’ve known for a while that I wanted to go into a PhD program,” said Grace. “I think that I’d like to teach and maybe be a professor at a research-based institution one day. I want to help students in the same way my UIndy professors have helped me. 

“But I’ve been kind of torn between biology and chemistry. There are parts of both that I love a lot, but I have to commit to one or the other in graduate school. So I’m hoping the Snyder Scholar program will help me decide if I want to do organic chemistry and push more into the chemistry side of things or if the biology route would be better for me in the future.”

Grace also hopes her experience with various chemistry and biology programs inspires her fellow students to seek out new opportunities and embrace their love of science in new ways. 

How do you do that? Grace credits her success in these programs to her connections with her professors.

“People talk about networking a lot,” explained Grace. “They often think that they have to go out and find people outside of their institution to talk to, but you can network with your own professors right here on campus. When you share your career goals with them, opportunities can find them and they will find you. It’s just really helpful to be able to have that relationship with faculty.”