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Kristina Seitler '14

Oh, the Places You’ll Go! (With Natalie Coe)

Kristina Seitler, ’14, is an ambitious senior based out of Chepachet, R.I. She found Green Mountain College after applying to engineering schools, but deciding at the last minute to go elsewhere.

“My grandparents live in Wallingford, so I’ve been familiar with the area,” she said. “I came up to visit and stumbled upon GMC. I’d never heard of it before that. I applied the weekend before I had to submit my admissions decision, and it worked out.” Kristina likes the “problem solving and critical thinking” inherent to the biology major, she said.

“I took AP biology my sophomore year of high school, which is earlier than most people,” she said. “I also did a biology and biotechnology program at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts, and I became really interested in research.”

She has spent a large amount of her time at GMC researching diligently with Natalie Coe, associate professor of biochemistry and genetics. The summer after freshman year, she worked on Coe’s Beech Bark disease project. “I basically lived in the lab that whole summer and spent tons of time there. I was looking at genotyping Deane’s Preserve American Beech (Fagus grandifolia) trees to see the genetic differences between trees that are phenotypically resistant and those susceptible to Beech Bark disease,” she said.

Since then, Kristina has been in and out of different research projects, and has built an illustrious resume in the process.

“The summer after sophomore year I got into Dartmouth College’s MD Ph.D. undergraduate summer fellowship program; I worked with the the endothelin receptors, G-protein coupled receptors essential for vasoconstriction and vasodilation, and shadowed an orthopedic spinal surgeon,” she said. “I was invited to go back the following summer, so I was there again this past summer.”

“Now I’m working on the protein side of Beech Bark disease. We’re looking at protein differences between phenotypically resistant and susceptible trees. The American Beech genome hasn't been sequenced, and UVM is working on a transcriptome (the part of the genome that is transcribed into RNA) that will allow us to identify these protein differences,” she said.

In addition to her impressive list of projects, Kristina has also been Natalie’s undergraduate research assistant for three semesters and has volunteered in the Rutland Regional Medical Center emergency room. She is also a peer tutor in math and sciences, and it’s her third semester as the teaching assistant of Calhoun Learning Center’s math class.

The biology professors at GMC have been hugely influential in Kristina discovering her career interests. “Carol Shaw, the lab manager, and has had tremendous influences on my research and life at GMC. Natalie Coe is obviously a huge part of my success. When I initially volunteered to work with her, she was on sabbatical. But everyone said she’s the person I ‘needed to work with,’” she said.

“Now she’s one of my best friends. She has made significant impacts on my life. She helped me get into Dartmouth’s summer program, and they only take four people. She has really encouraged me to push myself, and has held the standard very high to get me where I am,” she said.

How will Kristina implement all of her experience into her future? What’s the next step?

“I’ve applied to graduate school,” she said. “I’m interested in Dartmouth’s molecular and cellular biology Ph.D. I’m also applying to a variety of advanced-practice nursing programs. In order to get into nursing graduate programs you have to have a bachelor’s degree in nursing, so I’m applying to programs that are accelerated and do bachelor’s in nursing in conjunction with Master’s or Ph.D. I have an interview at the first one I’ve applied to!”

By Tim Halteman ‘15

Photo by John Gilbert Fox, from the fall issue of Dartmouth Medicine magazine.

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