Sarah Abdo in smiling in the Global Village area.


Chapman University, Orange, CA

Major: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology BS

Sarah was born and raised in a small town called Diamond Bar in Southern California. She has always enjoyed various outdoor activities like playing soccer, going to the beach, and skiing (yes, Southern California does have snow!). She also loves traveling and family vacations with her parents and two older siblings. For the longest time, she wanted to follow her mom’s footsteps of becoming a pharmacist. In fact, until a year ago, she would have never thought that she would want to get her Ph.D. In Chemistry (with a research focus in Chemistry Education) and teach at the college level.

Sarah is a rising senior at Chapman with a major in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and a minor in Health Sciences. Her love for chemistry education is fostered by the tight-knit relationships with her high school teachers and college professors. Especially, her General Chemistry I and II professor has been one of her greatest supporters and mentors in her path towards wanting to become a professor. In the Fall 2021 semester, she became a Supplemental Instruction (SI) Leader for General Chemistry I and II. Her experience as an SI and her desire to grow in her teaching skills has contributed to her following the path of teaching. When Sarah heard about the STEM Education REU from her major advisor at Chapman, she knew she had to take the opportunity and apply. She knows that she enjoys research that requires personal interaction with others, and she also knows she loves science, and this REU program combined both!

This summer, Sarah is excited to be working with Dr. Jennifer Bailey (with support from Dr. Dina Newman and Dr. Kate Wright) to assess spatial visualization strategies in natural science and engineering students using various 2D and 3D models and structures of biological and chemical molecules. She is working with her research partner, Dean, to conduct task-based, “think aloud” interviews. During the interviews, student participants verbalize their thoughts while completing tasks related to building familiar and unfamiliar 3D structures and relating them back to 2D representations. Through the data that Sarah and Dean are collecting, they hope to better understand those strategies that students might use in their own courses.

Sarah has had an incredible time at RIT so far. She has been fascinated by the research and has enjoyed every bit of hanging out with and getting to know her mentors and fellow REU friends. She is eager to see where her path lies after this summer and cannot wait to, one day, promote a more equitable learning environment for her future students.