Marcella Babatunde, Class of 2025, always knew she wanted her career to involve health care, and after hearing presentations about pharmacy careers, she realized that would be her chosen path.
“Pharmacy was the perfect combination of math, science, health care and working with drugs,” she says.
The day Babatunde received her white coat as she began her studies at the USC College of Pharmacy is when she moved down the path toward pharmaceutical research. The names of donors to the White Coat Ceremony are placed inside the pocket of each white coat – the donor of Babatunde’s coat was Doug Pittman, director of graduate studies for the College of Pharmacy.
“I emailed Dr. Pittman to thank him for donating my coat and read about his research,” Babatunde recalls. “I met him and asked more about the research he was doing, then asked if he was taking on more students.”
Babatunde joined Pittman’s lab and became involved in ongoing research into DNA repair. After Dr. Pittman encouraged her to apply, she submitted her paper entitled “Determining the Physical Interaction Patterns between Paraspeckle and RAD51 Paralogues” and received the Magellan Scholar Award from the USC Office of Undergraduate Research.
The award, given to scholars for research in scholarly and creative projects that are in collaboration with a faculty mentor, includes funding of up to $3,000 for salary, materials or travel.
“I have found three conferences where I would like to present my work,” Babatunde adds. “Having this award will also allow me to worry less about supporting myself during school and focus more on my research. I would have never guessed my freshman year that I would be involved in research, much less win an award for it. I’m very grateful for the support of the university and the college.”