Student Spotlight: Liubov Khanova ‘C21 – Future Dentist

Liubov Khanova C’21                   

What attracted you to Drew? 

I was born in Russia and when I first met with a Drew representative, I was told that Drew was really close to NYC. I was incredibly attracted to that aspect since I grew up in one of the world’s greatest cities – Moscow. I also was very interested in Drew because of the professor to student ratio. The classes were small enough for the anyone to feel safe and comfortable to ask questions, and get help if you don’t understand something. I also really liked Drew’s amazing research program – RISE, which allows students to get hands-on scientific experience.

Why did you choose chemistry as a major?

I wanted to major in biology, but decided that chemistry would be easier to study with a different language. However, when I started attending Dr. Mary-Ann Pearsall’s lectures at CHEM 151 I fell in love with my major.  I realized how chemistry can be so interesting. I started realizing that chemistry reactions do not just happen magically, but because certain atoms have certain sizes, electro negativities, geometry and many other factors which make it react in this one specific way that creates molecules and compounds. I realized that chemistry is beautiful and never wanted to switch to any other major since then.

Have you done any internships?

I did several internships. Two of them were in Russian dental offices  “Stomatologiya 24 chasa” and “Lazernaya Stomatologiya nomer 1” where I Shadowed 6 dentists: Dr. Sayidaliyev, Dr. Kirakosyan, Dr. Gavrilyuk, Dr. Davlatov Dr. Rassoyev and Dr. Arbaamyan. I observed a variety of procedures and also helped with room preparation for the patients, assisted the dentists. These experiences taught me a lot about the importance of effective teamwork and communication. I also studied the pharmacological aspect of dentistry and wrote a research paper on this topic.

I also shadowed two dentists in US. In Dr. Fang’s office, who is a dental surgeon, I learned a lot about implantology and wisdom teeth removal as well as about how to perform dental procedures while the patients are under general anesthesia. I was also helping out with preparation for the procedures which also was a valuable learning experience. Additionally I am also shadowed and am still shadowing in Dr. Dougherty’s, general dentist’s, office. While working with Dr. Dougherty I have been observing a lot of checkups and procedures, but most interestingly I was spending time in his lab where he makes things like dental casts and temporary crowns. Working with Dr. Dougherty taught me not just about procedures, but also about building long-term relationships with patients.

Can you talk a little about your research experiences at Drew?

I did research through RISE, the Drew Science Summer Institute (DSSI), and have done independent research.

RISE program + DSSI:  I was participating in Dr. Gullo’s research for three years, working on novel antibacterial compounds. Prior to Dr. Gullo’s work, Dr. William J. Houlihan found about 400 compounds for inhibiting cocaine euphoria and weight gain. Thirteen of these compounds with similar structures had antibacterial activity. In this research,  I worked on designing synthetic analogs of the compound. Dr. Gullo’s research involved a lot of organic chemistry lab techniques and working with NMR and LC-MS  to analyze the samples. Working with Dr. Gullo helped me to become much more independent and confident in my technique and knowledge.

Inorganic Chemistry Independent Research: For this research, I studied transition metal carbonyl cluster chemistry. More specifically, the reactions of Triosmium Decacarbonyl Bisethoxide with amides. The main goal of the research was to better understand transition metal carbonyl cluster chemistry and to create new synthetic routes to build various compounds which potentially have anti-cancer activity. A research paper was written at the conclusion of each experiment which provided a deeper insight into different aspects of the study. In future research, all the products formed will be tested for their biological activity in Dr. Dunham’s lab at Moravian College.

Do you have any mentors at Drew? 

Several employees of Drew place a special place in my heart. Michele Coles, Student Services Coordinator at INTO, and my academic advisor through the INTO program, would always cheer me up and help me with organizing my schedule. She would always give me advice on which courses are better to take during each semester. That was very fascinating to me because she didn’t study science, but she always knew which courses would be better for me to take on my path to becoming a dentist.

Dr. Mary-Ann Pearsall, Professor of Chemistry, has always been my mentor even before she became my academic advisor after I completed the INTO program. I always talk with her about chemistry and geology, which is her specialty, and enjoy our fun conversations about hiking. I always go to her office when I need support and advice.

Dr. Vincent Gullo was always a huge support to me. Whenever I was doing research with him I escaped from stressful lectures and labs. Dr. Gullo always talked with me about my life and in a fun and engaging way he introduced me to what we were doing that day. He always wanted to open my full potential and was my greatest motivation for it.

Anna McLachlan is no longer at Drew, however she was always a huge support to me. Anna was my main help and support when I and my best friend, Francesca Grout, created the Russian Club! I also participated in a program called “Conversation Partners”, where  once a week, as a Russian native speaker, I was able to tutor and speak with other students who were involved in a Russian language course at Drew to help them better understand their course material as well discussing other aspects of Russian language and culture such as Russian music, poetry, cinematography, etc.

What issue in the world means the most to you?

Accessible and affordable healthcare is the issue that means most to me. I believe every person has a right to affordable and effective healthcare services. When I am a dentist, I want to contribute to my community by providing free dental care and other services on a consistent basis.

What are a few of your favorite memories of Drew? 

One of my favorite memories is the photography course I took with professor Rory Mulligan during the fall semester of my junior year. I had extremely intense science courses, including biochemistry and analytical chemistry, with my three best friends – Abagail Pedroso, Francesca Grout and Paula Lopez. Spending nights in a dark room with them after working on lab reports and preparing for exams were some of the best memories of my life! I was going through my artistic process, while my friends and my boyfriend (now husband ☺) Ben Slattery C’19, were my biggest supporters sitting outside and telling fun jokes and stories from other classes.

How has your identity as an international student affected your journey at Drew?

As international student, over my first two years at Drew, I had a language barrier which stood in the way of my socializing. Thankfully, I met Francesca Grout. Francesca was from the same city in Russia as I was yet she also was half American and had spent much of her time growing up in the U.S. so she helped me in understanding American culture while also being in touch with my Russian roots. With her help I found a lot of friends as well and my husband – Ben Slattery. Being in a great group of people as well as with the love of my life had a huge impact on my language skills and made it much easier for me to get through classes successfully.

What advice would you give students who are just starting out that you wish you had when you started?

Never be scared to talk to professors. Sometimes showing your passion for a subject can lead to working on research with a professor. This is exactly how I ended up working with Dr. Pearsall, Dr. Gullo, and almost started working with Dr. Fazen, who is a biochemist at Drew. Just by talking you can always get help from a professor on a certain subject and it can really turn around your grades and class performance!

Last advice: never cry in front of biology professors – they don’t know how to respond. ☺

What are your career goals? Where do you hope to be in 5 years? 

I am planning on working in the medical field, and in 5 years I hope to be a licensed dentist.

Me and my husband Ben Slattery C’19

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