Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Madeline Odigie

Madeline Odigie will be Wheaton’s first graduate to receive a degree in bioinformatics, a new interdisciplinary major that merges molecular biology, computing and statistics. Her Wheaton course work and summer research internships at the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico and at the Boonshoft School of Medicine at Wright State University in Ohio have helped her land a prestigious National Institute of Health post-graduate fellowship.

Self-discovery. I had planned to major in biochemistry, but after taking a course that uses Perl programming language to analyze DNA sequences I became greatly interested in computer science. I wanted to take both computer science and natural science courses. Majoring in bioinformatics allowed me to take a variety of different courses in biology, chemistry, computer science and mathematics. The major gave me a different perspective on, and understanding of, the natural sciences.

Strong support. At Wheaton I feel that I have found myself. Wheaton College has helped me become more confident and has prepared me academically for future studies. Professor Elita Pastra-Landis has been both a great advisor and mentor who stood by me through my four years here. Professor Mark LeBlanc’s courses captured and developed my interest in computer science and led to my interest in the bioinformatics major.

Post-graduation plans. I have earned a Postbaccalaureate Intramural Research Training Program Award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). After graduation, I will move to Washington D.C., and begin my work at the NIH’s main campus in Bethesda, Maryland. I will be doing biomedical research at the Laboratory of Immunoregulation at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The research will focus on drug and vaccine development to alleviate the effects of HIV/Hepatitis C co-infection. I am really excited about the experience and I look forward to spending two years there. Doing research at the NIH was the number one goal that I set for myself, and I am elated that I was able to achieve this.

The future. For now, my ultimate career goal is to be an emergency room physician.