Elizabeth Sarkel: Biochemistry

Elizabeth Sarkel knew she wanted to pursue a degree in the sciences since the moment she moved into her dorm in Babcock freshman year.

Her passion for the sciences developed as she grew up and was able to get professional experience in a science lab at the University of Chicago during her senior year of high school. Sarkel discovered her home in the lab before making the final decision on where to attend college.

After being charmed by Wake Forest’s small class sizes and the chance to actually get to know professors, Sarkel graduated from her high school in Columbus, OH and traveled to Winston-Salem. Over her past four years here, Sarkel has spent her time performing classical cello for the orchestra, studying plant roots in Professor Gloria Muday’s research lab and relaxing with friends on the Quad.

Sarkel is part of the first class at Wake Forest to major in biochemistry and molecular biology along with six other students. One of her favorite parts of her time as a Demon Deacon has been watching the opening of Wake Downtown in the Innovation Quarter of Winston-Salem. Sarkel takes several of her classes at Wake Downtown and was thrilled about the opportunity to use new equipment and study in this atmosphere. She looks forwards to hearing about all of the new opportunities that science students will have with these facilities.

Although she splits her life between the lab and the stage in Scales, she still found time to study abroad in Austria at Wake Forest’s Flow House in Vienna.

“Vienna is a great city for classical music,” Sarkel said. “It was cool being around where a lot of the greatest composers had lived in Austria and I got to see a lot of musical performances while doing science research at the same time.”

She was also grateful to gain experience learning about the scientific field from an international perspective and thinks it will be an extremely useful skill for her future career.

After graduating in May, Sarkel will be continuing her education at UNC Chapel Hill. She will be pursuing a PhD through one of UNC’s umbrella programs, which allows students to explore the fields of genetics and molecular biology, then chose their thesis lab after the first year.

Sarkel has yet to determine the exact basis of research she will study during her career, but is very passionate about learning and is curious about the world around her. She is more interested in the research side of the biomedical field rather than actually practicing medicine.

“Ultimately, I would like to go into academia and do research involving asking basic questions about genetics, biochemistry, molecular biology, and thinking about how all those basic mechanisms regulate organisms and how they respond to the environment,” Sarkel said.

With graduation quickly approaching, Sarkel took a moment to reflect on her time at Wake Forest and the wealth of memories she has made. She will miss being in the orchestra and having so many musical opportunities easily available, but plans on continuing to play in some capacity. After developing such close relationships with professors in the science department, Sarkel also looks forward to meeting new professors in a different environment.

With all of this experience under her belt, Sarkel also had some advice for all of the students still at Wake Forest.

“Get to know your professors well and spend a lot of time learning a specific topic very in-depth,” Sarkel said. “That has helped me grow and figure out what I want to do as much as going abroad did.”

From her time in Babcock freshman year to Dogwood senior year and everything in between, Sarkel has truly appreciated her time as a Demon Deacon and made a deep impact on the students and faculty of Wake Forest.