21 Questions With…Emma Yates


20110126__YatesE_0130Name: Emma Yates
Age: 22
Major: Chemistry
Hometown: Coconut Creek, Florida
Eating club/residential college/affiliation: Charter/Forbes

What was your initial reaction when you found out you won the scholarship?
Immediately, it was realizing that I’d won the Churchill based on the fact that the director of the Churchill Foundation had just asked me to withdraw from the Gates. After that, it was, SCORE!

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?
Obtain some sort of caffeinated beverage.

What’s the best meal you’ve eaten at Princeton?
I actually eat the same special order soy, whole wheat pizza at Charter every day for dinner. My friends laugh, but honestly, it’s delicious! Thanks Tom and Ramon! :)

When was the last time you pulled an all-nighter and why?
Honestly, I’ve never been able to figure out how people actually do that. I can’t function as a productive person if I don’t sleep at all, but with finals, papers, and fellowship interviews all clustered within a few day stretch, I averaged around 3 hours a night for a week or two. Before that it was graduate school applications: I had 5 due on the same day.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
So _________, “I mean…”

What magazines do you read?
Allure and Lucky.

What is the background on your computer?
Believe it or not it’s St. John’s College, Cambridge! My research advisor there is the Master of St. John’s.

When is bedtime?
Unless something goes horribly wrong around 1:00 or 1:30 am.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned at Princeton?
Please forgive my answering with two; they’re very different.

One is the degree to which the hydrophobic effect, which explains how a protein with an astronomical number of possible conformations can find its native fold based on the burial of hydrophobic residues so as to maximize the entropy of the surrounding water molecules, explains almost all of biology (Professor Hecht).

The other is that reasonable people can reasonably disagree (Professor George). It’s a simple concept, but I’ve been encouraged by how much intellectual diversity actually exists on Princeton’s campus, and I’ve so enjoyed taking part in healthy debate through the Student Bioethics Forum, the Anscombe Society, and Princeton Pro-Life.

In one sentence, what is it that you actually do all day?
I walk around excited about the fact that I am so blessed to get the chance to get my hands dirty and actually do real science that may one day improve people’s lives.

What is your greatest guilty pleasure?

What is your motto?
Soli Deo gloria (Glory to God alone).

What’s the most dangerous thing you’ve done in the past year?
Hmmm….either falling on the ice sustaining a concussion and a cervical spine injury last February…. or there was that protein bar I took into Marquand!

What’s the last student performance you saw?
Classical Music Hour.

At age 6, what was your dream job?
I came up with this hypothesis about how to target AIDS around then, and I wanted to be a “medical researcher” in order to explore it. I’m not even kidding.

What do you hate most about Princeton?
I hate that there are so many things that I want to do that time simply won’t allow.

What are your plans for the Churchill Scholarship?
I will be studying the molecular basis of Alzheimer’s disease in Professor Chris Dobson’s lab and collaborating with Dr. Tuomas Knowles. Amyloid-beta is a neurological protein that has been implicated in pathology of Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers first thought that extracellular tangles of aggregated units of this protein were responsible for the neurological degeneration of Alzheimer’s disease. Now, researchers think that it’s actually intermediate forms on the aggregation pathway from soluble, monomeric amyloid-beta proteins to larger amyloid fibrils that are the toxic species. I’ll be looking at the structures of amyloid-beta oligomers and how it may be possible to direct these oligomers toward nontoxic forms with small molecules or other proteins.

What’s the next not-class-assigned book on your reading list?
Surprised by Joy, by C.S. Lewis.

When was the last time you were in a car?
My boyfriend came up to visit me last weekend and we went out to dinner and then to Wegmans in his car.

Who, or what, is your mortal enemy?

What makes you laugh?
When I realize I can’t speel.

What makes someone a Princetonian?
A willingness and desire to give their everything to impact one small part of their world.