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Chemistry Major Summer Internship: Holly Weaver

Published: March 16, 2012

Holly Weaver is a Senior Chemistry Major at ENC and was raised in New York (her family recently moved to Montana). In her years at ENC she has played on the Lady Lion’s Soccer Team, gone on three Fusion Trips, and has worked in the Chemical Stock Room, as a Lab TA, a baker for the cafeteria and an SI leader for EMES.

Weaver’s passion for Chemistry was kindled by a teacher in high school. She entered ENC as a Chemistry Major, but was not sure whether or not she wanted to do research or pursue another aspect of chemistry. After a summer of research under the guidance of ENC’s Dr. Williams, her passion for it was solidified, and she decided research was what she wanted to do as a career.

This past summer Weaver participated in a SULI (Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship) program at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington. Weaver’s research, entitled “Synthesis and Application of Glycoside Hydrolase Chemical Probes in Cellulose Degrading Biological Systems,” encompassed a combination of Synthetic Organic Chemistry and Biology.

She worked with different bio-fuels, synthesizing chemical probes that were implemented into biological system. This allowed the researchers to track and identify the enzymes breaking down cellulose; a valuable component in potential bio-fuels. In reflecting on the research, Weaver said, “The synthesis and binding activity of these probes proved to be successful and hopefully provided useful information for further research.”

Weaver commented on the National Lab environment as very professional, while still maintaining an undergraduate atmosphere where participants took part in different seminars and held a poster session at the end of the research. Although intimidated at first by something new, the opportunity of working in a small interdisciplinary group was a fun experience.

As Weaver is preparing to graduate in the spring and has applied to different graduate schools, she encourages other students to apply for research internships. “See if you’d like research. If you really do, internships will help you mentally in graduate school. It is a lot of fun, and while you work 40 hours, you still get a chance to go off and travel. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try something new.”



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