October 19, 2016
Carolyn Adamski discovered her niche at CSS and rode the wave to doctoral success
She’d always loved science, but It wasn’t until Carolyn Adamski ’10 took a class called Anatomy and Physiology at St. Scholastica that she knew exactly what she’d be studying for the rest of her life.
“I was a sponge when it came to learning about human physiology – I marveled at how atoms formed small molecular machines that elegantly worked together to give us life,” she said. “That class was a defining moment.”
Adamski was in Duluth with her mother when she visited the St. Scholastica campus back in 2007. She’d considered other colleges before that day, but after her experience, she “refused to go anywhere else.”
And once enrolled, it seems Adamski got everything she hoped for, and more.
“I truly became who I am today within the walls of those classrooms,” she said. “I loved my science classes and professors, but it was really the liberal arts classes that challenged my views and forced me to question the way I looked at the world.”
When Adamski was resolute in her direction, she started thinking about next steps. And since she, admittedly, knew nothing about grad school, she was a perfect match for the TRIO McNair Scholars program — an opportunity for post-baccalaureate preparation.
She says McNair was the most important factor in her future success.
“I cannot overstate the influence of this program in my life,” she said. “[Career Services Advisor] Carrie Taylor Kemp is an absolutely amazing woman. One of the most important things she did for me was help me to land summer research positions in two of the top research universities in the country.”
“Without her help, I never would have landed those positions and probably never would have gotten into graduate school.”
And her chemistry professors only stoked her love of the discipline, helping her to see mistakes as opportunities for growth, and to see a brighter future than she ever imagined.
“I spent many hours in the offices of Dr. Maki and Dr. Stein discussing a range of topics. They were generous with their time,” she said. “Even if I did poorly on an assignment or test, we would spend time discussing why. I learned so much this way.”
The fabulous now
Adamski earned her doctorate in biochemistry and molecular biology from Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) back in 2015. From there, she transitioned to a postdoctoral associate position in the Shaw Award-winning Dr. Huda Zoghbi lab. Dr. Zoghbi is a renowned researcher and Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) investigator.
“I am currently working on spinocerebellar ataxia 1 (SCA1), an inherited adult-onset neurodegenerative disease,” she said. “I actually did my doctoral work on antibiotic resistance, so the transition to neuroscience has been extremely challenging but endlessly fascinating.”
As for the future, Adamski is content to enjoy a bit of a rest from relentless academic pursuit. And she’s got the perfect partner in crime — her husband, whom she met at St. Scholastica.
“Our shared love of science and human physiology makes for infinite captivating conversations,” she said. “He will be applying to neurology residency programs this fall, and hopefully one day we can collaborate.”