Parlee Center for Science and the Common Good

All Majors & Minors

Sophia Worthington-Kirsch

Class Year

2019

My Major/ Minor/ Campus Organizations

Chemistry / Education / Parlee Center for Science and the Common Good, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Hillel

Hometown

Wynnewood, PA

What should matter to me?

People are the foundation of the pursuit of knowledge, and knowledge is the foundation of the lives of people. What matters to me is that people learn, and that that learning leads to better lives and thinking minds. My goal is to pursue knowledge, digging deeper in the fundamental laws and attributes of the Universe until a clear picture of the world has been created. Each revelation has the potential to be used and formed by humanity for the benefit of all of us: the sequencing of a virus’s RNA leads to better vaccination or targeted bacteriophages, the elucidation of a molelcular structure reveals more about how it has affected its environment, and the creation of a better sensing technique allows for swifter diagnosis. I believe we need to learn more about the world around us, and thus create a better world for our descendants through careful application of that knowledge.

How should we live together?

Every person is different, down to a fundamental level in their DNA, and shown clearly by their thoughts and actions. Diversity is important, because it allows us to improve everyone’s lives, not just the lives of people who are like us. Every person has different experiences, different knowledge, and a different outlook, and these things need to be taken into consideration when optimizing ways to teach people and help them grow.  We have a responsibility to consider these facets of the people who live around us.

There are two Parlee Center courses that I’ve taken that have heavily influenced my view. The first was Intercultural Communication, which I took first semester of sophomore year. I had never considered that how open I am about my life and the way I consider silence intimate are reflections of my cultural background as a white, Jewish-American woman from an upper class background. Differences in communication go beyond directness and indirectness to the pauses in speech and standing distance. Without understanding of how people communicate, we cannot understand their communication. The other class is Managing a Differentiated Classroom. In a previous class, we had discussed the different types of disabilities and exceptionalities, but in this class we got practical and learned about how exactly to teach a class that contains people with different abilities in the same class. It emphasized over and over that a plan must work for every member of a class, or it is not successful. That is how it is with all plans: they must be made with each person in mind lest they fail.

How can we understand the world?

I am seeking to understand the world through chemistry and philosophy. Science and the Common Good, which is mandated for all Fellows, helped me develop an understanding of why the search for knowledge is a positive thing, and whether it might need to be curtailed in certain situations. My ultimate goal in chemistry is also concerned intimately with understanding the world by analysis of chemicals. Understanding the structure of a molecule is a deep layer of understanding that allows us to reach into the fundamentals of the universe, and that is the level that I want to be on.

I also do independent research with Dr. Amanda Reig. We study a de novo model protein complex that models the active site of bimetallic enzymes. Specifically, we are working on a functional protein model of tyrosinase, a bicopper enzyme that polymerizes melanin. I also had an NSF-funded Research Experience for Undergraduates at the University of Delaware where I worked toward created a stable, concentrated, and pure sample of p97, a human protein instrumental in endoplasmic-reticulum associated degredation.

What will I do?

I want to pursue student teaching, followed by a PhD in Analytical Chemistry. Eventually, I want to create and spread new knowledge about chemistry and how it is intertwined with the good of humanity.