Blair Samantha Byrd

Did you receive any recognition (awards, publications, scholarship) for your applied learning experience?
CSURF Supply Grant 2017
Briefly describe your applied learning experience

In the Wright Laboratory, research focuses on marine organisms that have the potential to produce bioactive natural products. Some of the major compounds of interest within my honors project display cytotoxicity and are isolated from cyanobacteria and dinoflagellates. My particular research involves the extraction and purification of these compounds using various columns and high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). 

Did you receive any grants or other funding for your applied learning experience?
How did you get involved in this applied learning experience and what did you hope to gain from it?

I originally took the first semester of organic chemistry with Dr. Wright in 2016. During the following semester, I expressed my continued interest in organic chemistry to Dr. Wright and he contacted me with a DIS opportunity. After my semester of DIS in his natural products laboratory at CMS, he gave me the opportunity to complete an honors project! I hoped to gain more knowledge in the field of chemistry as it pertains to natural products and drug developent.

What did you gain from this experience? What was challenging? What did you learn?

After a year and a half in the Wright Laboratory at CMS, my honors project is coming to a close. I am in the final semester of my project and I have learned more than I could have ever imagined. As a biology major, I am completing an Interdisciplinary Honors project in chemistry. My experience has been very challenging and rewarding. Working with compounds that have the potential to change the field of medicine is a time consuming and meticulous task. However, I wouldn't change a thing. The bulk of my work has taught me self discipline and has given me a tangible passion for science. My time in the Wright Lab has been the most rewarding experience I have been given at UNCW.

In what way will this experience make you a more viable candidate when you are seeking a job or applying for graduate study?

This experience has taught me the diligence that is required in the field of chemistry. In science, there are more bad days than there are good, but the good days are worth every bad day. Without diligence and hard work through the monotonous days, you will not reach your good days. Dr. Wright and Dr. Strangman have taught me how to be patient and keep moving forward, not only in chemistry, but in life. Their help and support through my project has shaped my work ethic and they have prepared me for the more difficult challenges in life, such as graduate study and furthering my education.