Growing up, Meden Isaac-Lam knew that she wanted to find a career that allowed her to perform scientific research and make discoveries. She has always been fascinated by molecules and understanding how they interact with their environment. Now, as an associate professor of chemistry in the Department of Chemistry and Physics at Purdue University Northwest, Isaac-Lam is able to do the research that she has looked forward to performing since childhood on a daily basis.
What are your responsibilities as associate professor of chemistry?
My primary responsibilities include teaching organic chemistry in both a lecture and lab setting and biochemistry courses to undergraduate students who are potential applicants to professional schools such as pharmacy, dentistry and medical graduate school programs. Other students in the class will enter the labor force as laboratory and industrial technicians or as high school teachers. Aside from teaching, I also perform research and provide projects to students interested in hands-on research experience.
What does your research focus on?
I have several ongoing scientific projects that may overlap at some point. My research involves chemical synthesis of small organic molecules for potential medical applications, in vivo screening of repurposed pharmaceuticals for Alzheimer’s disease using mouse models, and studying oxidative stress in PTSD subjects using magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy. Recently, with the assistance of Purdue Research Foundation’s Office of Technology Commercialization, I filed a provisional patent for some of the compounds that I designed and synthesized for possible use in triple-negative breast cancer.
What is your favorite part of your job?
The best part of my job is the opportunity that I can perform research and teach. Research and teaching reinforce each other. It is through research that I can engage students to learn marketable skills, demonstrate to them real-time what I illustrate on the chalkboard and promote competence and competitiveness by applying concepts into practice. Research is the essence of science, and teaching is sharing knowledge and transferring information.
How does your job impact the lives of students?
I have high expectations for my students. Setting high standards pushes and allows students to achieve extraordinary goals that they might otherwise think were impossible to reach. I teach my students to constantly practice curiosity, and I repeat to them quite a bit that learning is a lifetime vocation. Learning should become a habit and a hobby. It does not end after being handed that diploma. In fact, it is the beginning of further acquisition of new knowledge. I train my students to the best of my abilities and I am more for quality and not just quantity. I want students to understand that they should optimize their efforts within these four short years to get all the crucial educational preparation needed to be our future workforce, our future biomedical researchers, our future engineers, pharmacists, dentists, nurses, doctors and more. I teach students with quality standards so they can also teach others with high standards within whatever profession they choose.
What do you like to do outside of your time at Purdue Northwest?
Outside of my regular responsibilities at Purdue Northwest, I always think about projects for the community as a whole. I envision projects that will improve our current education in the elementary or high school because I believe that we must start to mold schoolchildren early since they are our next generation of students. I also envision projects to inform the community to take care of their health since a healthy body equals a healthy mind, and a healthy brain produces good, meaningful choices and decisions. These are works in progress and I have not entirely formulated any strategy to make these materialize yet, but these are some of the items on my agenda. With the right timing, I am positive and optimistic that my aspirations will eventually become a reality.
Story written by Purdue Today