Evan Harris

Biochemistry & Molecular Biology: Samantha Robinson

The backbone of elite higher education institutions like Wake Forest is their capacity to produce research. Graduating senior and biochemistry and molecular biology student Samantha Robinson has had the privilege of being at the forefront of that research for the past four years.

As a Charlotte, N.C., resident, Wake Forest was always a fixture in her life.

“I didn’t want to go anywhere else,” Robinson said. 

After she departs from Wake Forest in May, Robinson will be attending the University of California at Davis in the fall to pursue her Ph.D. Though Robinson had always been a STEM student, she first believed she was bound for medical school, but it was not until she got in Dr. Alexander’s lab her freshman year — an “atypical” feat as she puts it — did she find her passion. Robinson’s research focuses mainly on tRNA, which transfers specific amino acids and aids in the construction of proteins. More than anything, this has defined her Wake Forest experience.

“Working in the lab was definitely my favorite thing. Because since I started as a freshman, I’ve gotten really close with all my labmates,” Robinson said. “I’ve also presented at the tRNA conference last summer, and then I recently presented at the biophysical conference. Those are probably the most fun things that I did.”

She continued: “I’m proud of the amount of time that I’ve been in the lab, and what I’ve been able to do — I’m getting published on one of our grad student publications, so I’m proud of that.”

In her four years, she spent the most time working in Dr. Rebecca Alexander’s lab, but Robinson also shared how other department faculty guided her through challenging moments. 

“I had this whole kind of journey that was different for students because I was diagnosed with a bunch of different learning disabilities and stuff like that,” Robinson said. “And so I started my junior year, but I had a lot of teachers that were really helpful with that, they’ve always been like a really good support system for me.” 

Looking forward, Robinson is thrilled to continue her academic journey at UC Davis, and thanks to her experience at Wake Forest, she believes she has found and affirmed her calling.

“I’ve found myself in a position where I know or I feel like I was made to do research,” Robinson said. “It’s the one thing I’m naturally good at and really have a passion for.”

Beyond achieving new mastery in her field, she also views her post-graduate degree as a confirmation of her purpose.

“Getting my doctorate is a big thing because it is on paper. I’m supposed to be doing this, and I’m good at this,” Robinson said.

But despite all her achievements in research, she still feels like there will always be more out there to learn.

“My favorite thing, and I think it’s why I’m so good at research, is that I love to learn and I’m constantly trying to learn new things,” Robinson said. “I think that there will always be new things for me to look into.” 

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