Alison Schutt
Medical Student, University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, Illinois
Alison Schutt

Research rules

In addition to being a member of the Honors Program, the Black V student improv team, the Student Activities Council and a Summa Cum Laude graduate, Alison was awarded Faculty Honors upon her graduation for excellence in academic achievement, Christian influence, attitude and campus involvement. Combined with her Northwestern education, a Summer of Service experience at a hospital in Ghana and multiple research opportunities left her feeling prepared for a career in medicine.

Successful application

The Honors Program exposed me to what scholarship and research looks like in different fields. Research experience is an important part of applying to medical school, so the opportunity to gain more research experience through the Honors Program was very helpful.

Rewarding research

For my honors research project, I collaborated with peers on annotating the genome of phage ILeeKay using bioinformatics techniques. We combed through the genetic sequence of ILeeKay to assign probable functions to the genes of the phage. Our annotation was then uploaded to the phage database for open access. Following the completion of our annotation, I had the opportunity to present our annotation at the national symposium alongside students from all other colleges and universities involved in SEA-PHAGES’ groundbreaking work. This presentation enabled me to be a part of an international scientific effort and educated me on current rapid advances in genetics and bioinformatics.

Cross-discipline exploration

I had the opportunity to attend fellow honors student Marie Jeppesen’s presentation on the use of the word “transpire.” She explored the meaning of the word in several pieces of literature in the context within which they were written. It was an area of research much different than my own. It was fascinating for me to understand through her presentation how the process of research takes shape in different disciplines.

Taking the lead

Dr. Vonder Bruegge and Dr. Feenstra, the Honors Program directors, are both genuinely curious people. No matter what discipline a student is passionate about, they encourage your exploration of it and are always excited to let you teach them what you know.