April 01, 2020
By Alice Zhao
Carolina junior, Francis Lauzier, is pursuing a B.S. in Chemistry, with a focus in biochemistry. Recently, Lauzier presented a poster on Polyethylene Glycol Size and Protein-Complex Stability at the Biophysical Society Annual Meeting in San Diego, CA. The meeting allows leading scientists to come together to present their findings and provides the opportunity for participants to learn about emerging techniques and applications in the life, physical, and computational sciences.
Before joining the Carolina Community, Lauzier always knew he wanted to be in the STEM field. When it came time to attend university, he accepted the offer to attend Carolina for its variety of STEM majors, as well as the opportunity to build onto his career.
“I decided to become a Tar Heel because I wasn’t 100% sure in what I wanted to major in, but I knew I wanted to go deep in a STEM field. UNC had the most variety in my eyes. Plus, UNC’s grad and med school provided the opportunity for research/internships down the line.”
Lauzier found his passion for chemistry after just one course.
“Since I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to major in, I decided to take a class that I’d need no matter what as a STEM major. Ultimately, I enrolled in Chem 102 the summer before my freshman year. I fell in love with it, and decided I wanted to be a chemistry major. In the fall, I kept taking some of the general STEM classes to make sure I was making the right decision. While I still thought those classes were interesting, chemistry just felt like a better balance of theory and application to me.”
After just one semester in Lauzier’s undergraduate studies, he was selected to join Professor Pielak’s lab in January 2018, won UNC Chemistry’s James Maguire Memorial Award in 2019, and continues to conduct research in the Pielak lab.
“Fortunately, I’ve been guided every step of the way into understanding the research world by my graduate student mentors and Professor Pielak himself. I started out learning how to isolate proteins through protein expressions and subsequent purification and have worked my way towards running 19F NMR experiments. Specifically, I’ve been looking at the effect of polymers on protein-complex stability.”
Lauzier is approaching his career options with an open mind as he hopes to combine his goal to “solve problems” with his passion for research.
“I wanted to approach my career options with an open mind, and I decided to shadow a physician to get an idea of what being a doctor would be like. I loved this experience, and it really opened my eyes to what doctors do, and how they must be able to think on their feet and read into how patients describe their problems. So, my career goal is to attend med school in the future and work in a practice.”
Recently, Lauzier was awarded a fellowship for the Summer Internship Program at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. The eight-week internship offers the opportunity for undergraduates to work with leading scientists in an environment dedicated exclusively to biomedical research. He will be extending his education and experience in the Summer of 2020 leading up to his graduation in May 2021.