Olivia Love, Cheatham Lab (Medicinal Chemistry)
Tell me a little about yourself. Where are you from, what degree(s) do you have? What are your interests?
I’m from Boise, Idaho and got a degree in Biochemistry at Idaho State University before coming to the U. I enjoy watching New Girl, doing yoga, and have recently taken up running (thanks quarantine).
Why did you choose the U for graduate school?
I chose the U because of the research. There are so many labs with a biomedical focus and that is what has always interested me. There is also an awesome umbrella program that allows you to trial different disciplines before committing to your thesis lab. I found this very helpful as an overly eager first year student who had no idea what I wanted to research.
Tell me about your lab. What do you study?
I joined Dr. Thomas Cheatham’s lab in Medicinal Chemistry where the research focus is on molecular dynamic simulations and modeling biological systems. Right now, I’m working on validating a new force field in optimizing homology structures of an enzyme.
Why did you choose to join your lab?
I chose my lab because I had never done computational chemistry before my rotations but have found it challenging me in completely new ways and I am really enjoying it. The Cheatham Lab is small but highly motivated to be leading researchers in the field; I knew this was something I wanted to be a part of and a fast-paced environment I would thrive in. Plus, the projects are really interesting and push me to be creative.
What do you like most about living in Salt Lake City?
My favorite part about living in Salt Lake City is the mountains - THEY'RE SO CLOSE!
A hike is never too far and there is always something to do outside.
What do you like the least?
My least favorite part is being away from all my family and friends -luckily, I am not too far and a lot of them are ski bums that plan to visit to "shred the gnar".
What do you like most about being a graduate student?
I love learning and being able to tailor classes to my specific interests. I am also very excited to have my own project and develop my independent thinking as a scientist.
What types of things do you do outside of class and lab?
I really love road trips, hammocking, hiking, and doing yoga with friends. I do dabble in a bit of online shopping and researching how to be the best plant mom.
What does a typical weekday look like for you?
Normally, I wake up and do some kind of workout --yoga, a short run, or just stretching. Then I make coffee (the life source of many grad students) and get to work. With everything going on right now, I am fortunate to be able to work from home since the lab I joined is computational, which means the commute is not long. I always end the day with binge-watching some kind of cheesy reality TV show or sitcom.
What does a typical weekend look like for you?
Sleeping in!! With the nice weather, my boyfriend and I have been taking advantage of camping trips and lake days.
What advice would you give to someone applying and interviewing for graduate school?
I will pass along some advice I got while interviewing: make a list of what you want both from the institution you are applying to and the city you will be living in. Apply to schools that seem to check a lot of those boxes and, as you interview, reevaluate. This next adventure will be 5+ years of your life and will help set you up for your career, so you want to make sure you are in an environment that promotes the growth of you as a scientist but also takes care of you as a human. Most importantly, enjoy the process! You are going to meet some really cool people, so have fun!