December 1—David Radke, a 2010 graduate of Northwestern College, has been accepted by the School of Public Health at Harvard University to pursue a Ph.D. bench research biology degree. With a double major from Northwestern in Biochemistry and Biology, Radke is ready to apply his “skills and knowledge towards solving biological questions of great relevance for the public benefit.”
After having positive research experiences at NWC, he knew that he wanted to pursue rigorous scientific training. Though he graduated in the summer of 2010, he remained at Northwestern to work with Dr. Lisanne Winslow in the biological laboratory for the fall semester of 2010 as a Visiting Research Fellow. He was able to help mentor a few research students, but his main goal was finishing his research project on the identification characterization of the Arlysulfatase protein found in the sea urchin Lytechinus variegatus.
Northwestern’s science program proved formative in both professional and Biblical areas. The faculty, especially, was an integral part of the experience for Radke. “I never felt like a name on a roster,” he said, “but always like a valued person.”
In the springtime of 2011 after he graduated from Northwestern, he traveled around the country for seven different interview sessions at top-level graduate schools. By the end of spring, he decided to attend Harvard. The highlight for him, however, came in the summer of 2011 when he married his NWC sweetheart Molly Barrett, who graduated spring of 2010 with a B.A. in Psychology.
One of the things that Radke enjoys most about science is the discovery process. “Sometimes the unexpected results can be quite exciting,” he said. “Other times it can be the validation of the prediction you had the whole time that brings a thrill.” On the flip side, he said that science could also be difficult. He added, “Learning scientific principles has been likened to learning a new language.”
Because of Northwestern’s influence and his own spiritual journey, Radke finds ways to integrate his faith into his field of study. “The Maker’s handiwork is obvious in the cellular and molecular biology that I learn and work with each day,” he said. “Through the myriad of biological details, including the formation of genes, I see God at work.”
While Radke is in the process of “rotating” through labs before choosing a thesis topic, he is currently studying genetic knockouts of nutrient sensing in the malaria parasite. He has decided to continue research after his Ph.D., possibly as a post-doctoral fellow at a major university or research facility. Then he plans to teach at the undergraduate level as well as continue researching.
Radke’s paper on the Arlysulfatase protein in sea urchins will be coming out this fall in the international scientific journal Integrative Zoology.
His parents and brother Daniel Radke reside in Stillwater, MN.