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Student Profile: Divya Thakur, '16, Biology

Morristown, N.J. (March 1, 2016) – Springfield, N.J., resident Divya Thakur '16, is a biology major with a chemistry minor who is working towards becoming a dentist. As a girl, she would watch documentaries about dentistry and excelled in science throughout school.

"I like science because it explains how everything works at a basic level," she offers.

She chose to enroll at CSE because of the pre-dentistry science concentration and the scholarship she had been offered. During her tenure, she has been the secretary of the biology club and a peer tutor at the Conklin Academic Success Center in math and basic and higher-level biology. Divya has also participated in many service-learning and community-based activities.

When given the opportunity to present original research at the Independent College Fund of New Jersey (ICFNJ) Research Symposium in March, 2016, Divya responded with enthusiasm.

"This is definitely going to help me get into dental school," she says.

The goal of the research symposium is to attract and retain students in the STEM fields through hands-on, inquiry-based experiences. To compete in this event requires that students complete original research under the guidance of a professor.

Divya's research looks at the bacteria present in one's mouth after using a mouthwash that claims 99 percent germ-killing efficiency. She is seeking to identify the remaining bacteria by conducting metabolic tests and determine if they could cause any other diseases. She is also seeking the answer to "What happens to the remaining .01 percent?"

Divya received the Novartis Science Scholarship to conduct her research. She has a strong personal interest in this particular research and her career of dentistry because she had a close relative who lost a battle with gum disease.

She has spent her last three summers shadowing dentists, including alumna Allison Adams, '85, D.M.D., and is waiting to hear from schools of dentistry for the next step of her journey.

"I want to know how to develop a dental practice, which I began to learn during my shadowing experiences," says Divya.

Dr. Donna Howell, biology program chair and professor, is Divya's mentor on this research project. She says, "Divya has been working very hard on her honors research project. She came up with the initial idea for her project on her own and was successful in obtaining the Novartis Science Scholarship. Many times people do not understand the time commitment and perseverance required for scientific bench research. Divya has done an exemplary job."

"I love being in the lab," says Divya. "It is a relaxing atmosphere and CSE has great technology-based equipment."

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