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Award-winning club has good biochemistry

Sitting around a dinner table talking about biochemistry might not be everyone’s ideal Friday night, but it is for one group of third years in the College of Science. Jennifer Endress, Adele Musicant, Erin Askounis, Rachel Yao, and Sam Genardi comprise the executive board for the Northeastern University Biochemistry Club, which was recently named the outstanding chapter of the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

“We’re really good friends, and I think that helps us as an e-board,” said Musicant over coffee at Panera Bread on Huntington Avenue. Finishing her sentence, Endress, the club’s president said, “I think that’s why the club is so successful.”

“This is what our e-board meetings look like all the time,” said Yao. Most of them take place at a restaurant over dinner, where conversations about vice president Musicant’s work on plant-produced anti-cancer compounds or secretary Yao’s co-op at MIT dovetail with discussions of upcoming club meetings or a recap of the current budget from club treasurer Askounis.

Each year, the ASBMB Undergraduate Affiliate Network recognizes one chapter that has demonstrated outstanding leadership and a commitment to both science literacy and education. Chapters are judged on campus events, participation with the broader association, and community outreach activities.

This year, Genardi, who serves as the club’s volunteer coordinator, helped organize community events with the Boston Science Fair and the Science Club for Girls. There, they showed the younger students, who ranged in age from three to 13 years old, how to isolate the genetic material from peas. “The most interesting part of that was having to explain the concept of DNA to kids who’d never heard of DNA before,” said Musicant. “It was a great experience.”

The group tries to meet biweekly, but, as Endress said, “we’re not going to waste anyone’s time. It’s actually going to be a meaningful event or we won’t have a meeting that week.” Members may find themselves wandering around a museum together on a Saturday afternoon or listening to a panel of students talk about their co-op experiences.

The five women agreed that the Biochemistry Club offers a home base for students studying biochemistry. But it also connects them to other groups on campus, such as the American Chemical Society chapter and NEURONS, the Northeastern Undergraduate Researchers of Neuroscience.

These groups, together with the Pre-Med Club, organized a massively successful event in January called Futures in the Sciences, where practicing scientists spoke to the student body about careers in the field. Next year, the Biochemistry Club will spearhead that event, and the group hopes to bring a high-profile biochemistry researcher to campus.

Their success can be measured not just by the plaque they received on Monday, but also by the growing interest among members and the subsequent increase in events.

“We have big plans for next year,” said Endress.