Aiming for medical school

Faculty mentors and research opportunities are preparing chemistry major Ian Gilbert for a career in medicine.

Ian Gilbert

For his first bachelor’s degree (in history), Ian Gilbert went to a university with more than 40,000 students, where he says he felt like, “just a number.”

Returning to school for a second bachelor’s, this time in chemistry combined with molecular biology, biochemistry and bioinformatics (MB3), Gilbert chose Towson University because of the opportunities to work closely with faculty on research projects.

“I get the hands-on experience with the professors directly,” says Gilbert. “You feel like you’re more involved throughout the whole research process.”

Since fall 2017, Gilbert has worked in chemistry professor Keith Reber’s organic synthesis lab as a research assistant.

“We look for methods to create natural products that are hard to isolate from natural sources,” explains Gilbert. “If we can make them in the lab, we can get a better idea of their physical properties.”

I get the hands-on experience with the professors directly. ”

Ian Gilbert

Gilbert was awarded a summer research fellowship in 2018, part of a grant to the chemistry department from the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, which allowed him to spend the summer working full-time in Reber’s lab.

The fellowship is just one of many opportunities that the Severna Park, Maryland, native says are preparing him for his future.

Aiming for medical school, he appreciates the chance to teach review and recitation sessions in organic and general chemistry.

A career in medicine, says Gilbert, is a constant process of learning from others, doing by yourself, then teaching someone else. “Having that ingrained in my mind has been really helpful towards growing as a scientist.”

Most helpful, however, is the support Gilbert gets from mentors like Reber.

“They actually take the time to care for their students’ futures,” says the newly elected president of Towson’s American Chemical Society student chapter. “They set you up to succeed.”

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