Colin McDowell ’20
Poulsbo, Washington
Colin McDowell

Drawn to research

Colin plans to graduate from Northwestern in two years, earn a doctoral degree, and pursue a research career in pharmaceuticals, agricultural development or pathology. He is a member of the Honors Program and involved in chemistry department research. He also serves as a peer tutor, works for the audiovisual department, and is active in chess intramurals, a discipleship group and other dorm-sponsored events.

Science values

Any college could teach me how to be a chemist. At Northwestern, I’m also learning the underlying moral framework behind my choices as a biochemist. In short, I chose Northwestern because it integrates a Christian worldview into the sciences. At a time when the sciences are viewed as increasingly secular, the value of integrating a biblical worldview with the impressive applicability of science drew me to attend a Christian college. After visiting Northwestern, I knew this was the place for me.

The best equipment

Northwestern has the incredible combination of knowledgeable faculty and top-notch facilities. My chemistry professors are friendly, caring, welcoming and experts in their respective fields. They often work with students on research projects and are always available to help students. Northwestern also has state-of-the-art facilities and technology. Many of the instruments in the new science center—a confocal laser microscope, a MALDI-TOF mass spectrometer, and a NMR, to name a few—provide crucial instruction in the practical application of chemistry.

Hands-on experience

I participated in an internship at a local research company through the Northwestern chemistry department the summer after my freshman year. The company uses miniature pigs as models for human disease. I worked a full-time paid shift for the company doing all manner of work: animal care, surgeries, vaccinations and many other jobs. I came away with two valuable pieces of knowledge: how research actually works in the business community, and how to work with others on that research.

Time to talk

My best memory so far of my time at Northwestern is sitting in a chemistry professor’s office and having a deep discussion about faith and science. Due to my class schedule, I had a free afternoon on Thursdays, and that Thursday we probably talked for a solid four hours. That afternoon exemplifies for me why I don’t think of faculty members as merely professors or experts; rather, they are mentors, friends and instructors who will walk by your side patiently and kindly. It took initiative on my part, but I will treasure those discussions whenever I look back on my college years.