Emily Dorn Takes on Tuberculosis with Math

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Junior Emily Dorn has always had high expectations for herself, and selecting a college that matched her ambitions was her top priority after graduating from high school. She’s tackling a double major but still finds time to get involved on campus, even holding a leadership role with the Marching Comets. Just when Emily thought her college journey couldn’t get any better, her route took an unexpected twist in the best way possible when she received the David Cutler ’65 Fellowship at the 2017 Honors Convocation.

Hailing from Grayling, Emily grew up in a tightknit community that fueled her to check out the equally tightknit community of The University of Olivet. Once on campus, Emily was surprised and excited about the warm welcome she received from faculty, staff and students. The decision was easy for her from there, Emily knew OC would give her the personal experience she was seeking.

“Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect from college at first,” Emily admitted. “It’s a big transition and I also didn’t really know what I wanted to study. Now, I know that at Olivet you can make your own opportunities. I’ve had the ability to put myself out there and go the extra mile to earn opportunities, and because of that, my college experience has been great.”

As a freshman, Emily declared a mathematics major and history minor. While she wasn’t sure if she was passionate about math – or could handle college level courses – Emily excelled when faced with the most complex equations. Emily’s history minor quickly turned into a major, a key she’s using to diversify her studies, after getting involved with the college archives. Now she holds a student employment position under OC archivist and assistant professor of social sciences Nikki Magie, Ph.D., one of her most influential professors. In addition, Janine Peters, Mathematics and Computer Science Department chair and associate professor of mathematics and computer science, serves as a mentor to Emily as well.

“Both Dr. Magie and Professor Peters are really good at helping cultivate my interests,” Emily explained. “Dr. Magie is always so enthusiastic about my ideas and shares her input to help me explore new ideas. Professor Peters is amazing too. She pushes me to think outside of the box and work hard.”

Dr. Magie and Professor Peters aren’t the only faculty members that helped Emily grow on campus. As a Marching Comet, Director of Bands Jeremy Duby has also taken special notice of Emily. This season, he even selected Emily for a leadership role within the band – field commander overseeing the brass section. Director Duby was so impressed with Emily that he even nominated her for the President’s Leadership Institute.

“I’ve learned a lot about my own leadership style thanks to PLI,” Emily exclaimed. “I’ve also gotten to interact with distinguished leaders and had tons of opportunities to work with new teams. The Marching Comets and college archives are both growing programs on campus, and my leadership training is definitely going to help me contribute to the successful growth of each.”

Emily’s immersion into campus life and dedication to personal growth hasn’t gone unnoticed by the campus community. Last spring, Emily received the Cutler Fellowship for the 2017-18 academic year. Created to honor alumnus David Cutler ’65, the fellowship is an annual merit award given to a junior or senior majoring in math, science or computer science. The award was presented to Emily with the expectation that she make a substantial contribution in her field of study during her year as a Cutler Fellow.

Last summer, Emily landed a research experience for undergraduates focusing on factors that affect Alzheimer’s disease. Inspired by her findings, Emily chose to focus her Cutler Fellowship on a similar study, this time with the goal to learn more about tuberculosis. She finds tuberculosis a fascinating disease because it has developed into many multidrug resistant strains. Currently, Emily is researching more about how poverty, population density, nutrition and many other factors contribute to the way the disease is spread and contracted, using applied math as her main tool in doing so.

Emily hopes her findings can help combat tuberculosis in developing countries, which is recognized by the World Health Organizations as one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide. “My research experience this summer and my Cutler Fellowship have given me the final push to show that I am passionate about math, and that it is something I can see myself doing for my career,” Emily explained. “Not only is it always challenging and interesting, but it also gives me a great opportunity to help people and make a difference in our world.”

Emily is aiming to present her findings at the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts and Letters annual conference in March 2018. In December, she will submit the abstract as part of a larger paper she is writing to explain her findings, planning to utilize her free time over winter break for a large portion of the research. In addition, Emily is already checking out graduate schools and prepping for her future. She couldn’t be more thankful to all her professors who have helped her accomplish so much in just two and a half years.

Learn more about the opportunities available at The University of Olivet by contacting the Office of Admissions at 800.456.7189 or admissions@uolivet.edu.


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