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Attorney finds new career in science

Amanda Siegel | 2011 Alumna, Ph.D. Chemistry, Post-Doc, IU School of Medicine | Department of Chemistry & Chemical Biology The passion for science was always there; Amanda Siegel, a former attorney and mother of three, just had to reignite it.

“After my children moved beyond babyhood, I thought about going back to law and realized I was really more passionate about science,” says Siegel, who, after earning a bachelor’s degree in physics from Yale University, moved away from science to study law at the University of Chicago. “I took a number of undergraduate science classes at IUPUI as a non-degree student to ready myself to apply to graduate school.”

In addition to working directly with the chemistry department’s chair of graduate admissions, Siegel met Dr. Christoph Naumann, associate professor of chemistry, who quickly saw Siegel’s potential from her transcript and recommended her for placement in the graduate studies program.

The support and mentorship of the science faculty is a characteristic of the program that impressed Siegel from the very beginning.

“I always found the faculty to be very accessible and encouraging,” comments Siegel. “It’s really a community led by a committed faculty who want to bring out the scientists in their students.”

Since earning her Ph.D., Siegel has been researching with Dr. Richard Day in the Department of Cellular and Integrative Physiology at the IU School of Medicine. She is continuing to explore how to use cell membrane models to analyze how proteins interact in a controlled environment employing different techniques. The work continues research she began in graduate school in the School of Science.

Citing it as one of the highlights of her PhD studies, Siegel was recognized by the American Chemical Society for a poster she presented at a conference in March 2009. The poster described research she was conducting at the time on new model membranes built with a class of molecules called lipopolymers. Her time in graduate school remains an impactful part of her life, she said.

"The years at the School of Science was a fantastically rich and exciting time for me," she recalled. "Graduate school is a very collaborative environment. When you arrive, you find mentors and learn from everyone. As you gain experience, you can give back and mentor undergrads and other grad students ... and there are many opportunities to collaborate."

Siegel hopes to one day teach cellular biophysics or a similar subject at a four-year university.

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