As a child, Marisa Pfohl ’19 was fascinated by the idea that you could figure out what caused a disease—as well as how to treat or cure it.
Pfohl’s older brother has Type 1 diabetes, and she traces her interest back to her observation of her brother’s disease management. Now she is poised to finish her Ph.D. and is applying for government jobs in environmental toxicology. Pfohl is particularly interested in the risks pollution poses to public health—“how pollutants interact with the body to produce disease,” she says.
“I learned a lot in my undergraduate program about medicine and how it works. As an undergraduate, I received support from teaching assistants and professors,” Pfohl says. “They got excited when you had questions. TAs and professors want to share their talent and expertise with you.”
URI’s College of Pharmacy encourages its undergraduates to work in labs, getting valuable applied science experience. Pfohl has researched PFAs—perfluoroalkyl and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, synthetic materials found in nonstick cookware and household cleaners. Pfohl says disciplined and motivated students will find their efforts are rewarded at URI.
“There’s a lot of opportunities on this campus to get involved, to take on leadership roles, but it’s up to the student to take advantage,” she says.