University of Rochester

Rochester Review
July–August 2010
Vol. 72, No. 6

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Double Duty As more Rochester students expand their studies to include a second—and sometimes a third—major or degree, we ask a few members of the Class of 2010 why they went that extra step. By Kathleen McGarvey | Photographs by Adam Fenster
Amanda Case
McLean, Va.
Majors: Microbiology and Russian
double_case (Photo: Adam Fenster)

Talk for a while with Amanda Case and you realize that she’s a person who appreciates small things.

She was always interested in animals, she says, but when she came to Rochester and began her biology studies, her focus narrowed.

“Once I was taking classes, I realized I wanted to take it down to the basics, to the single cell.

“I like how microbiology focuses on the beginning, on how life started. You see how our body systems relate to microbiology.”

At the same time that Case was probing the building blocks of life, she was also exploring an entire culture with her dual major in Russian.

Again, it was smallness that appealed. She responded to the intimacy of the program, she says. “I liked that I could get to know every faculty member.”

She strengthened her bonds with other Russian majors during the program’s summer trip to Saint Petersburg, Moscow, and Novgorod.

“I think having the Russian major has helped me in microbiology because I can think more ‘out of the box,’” says Case, who was also a four-year starter in field hockey and lacrosse and was named all–Liberty League in both sports during her senior year. Facing the challenges of finding her footing in a new language and culture “has given me a more open mind when solving things.”

As a microbiology major, Case did independent research, working in the lab of Mingtao Zeng, an adjunct professor of microbiology and immunology who is pursuing a botulism vaccine.

She loved having the chance to see how scientists develop ideas, she says. “You hear about how they do these things, but to actually see it was really fun.”

While she enjoys research, Case prefers to pursue a clinical path, and she’ll spend next year volunteering in a hospital in her home state of Virginia to get additional hands-on experience before applying to medical school.

And she takes satisfaction in her experience at Rochester, straddling the humanities and the sciences.

“You get the best of both worlds.”