All About the Research

Chemistry major Garrett Santis headshot

It’s all about research for Garrett Santis ’20—whether it’s in the science lab, at an amazing internship, or searching for the right college.

Santis, a chemistry major from Ijamsville, Md., is one of the newest Allwein Scholars, the College’s most prestigious honor for incoming freshmen. The John Bowman Allwein Scholars Program is named in honor of Dr. John “Jack” Bowman Allwein, LVC Class of ’56. Dr. Bowman’s legacy includes the largest estate gift to the College in its history. Each fall, several outstanding students are awarded an Allwein Scholarship for all four years at LVC. In addition to the full-tuition scholarship, Allwein Scholars receive a $2,500 stipend for each of the four years for research, travel, or study expenses associated with study abroad, internships, and/or collaborative research. 

Interestingly, Santis already shares a common bond with another incoming Allwein Scholar as they both interned with the National Cancer Institute. Santis learned about the Werner H. Kirsten Internship from his high school counselor and immediately applied. He practiced a variety of techniques, including cell culture and Western Blott, while working in the Laboratory of Cell Signaling and Development. Santis was assigned to a researcher, but also spent time with his own project related to genes and colon cancer.

“The internship was one of the greatest opportunities I could have ever asked for,” said Santis. “It exposed me to formal science and reassured me that I want to pursue a career in research.”

Santis jumpstarted his research career at LVC by participating in the Research First program where first-year students live on campus for a few weeks the summer before they start classes. The unique program enables incoming freshman to conduct research in the science labs of the Neidig-Garber Science Center with LVC faculty. With Dr. Elizabeth Sterner, assistant professor of chemistry, Santis looked at a new method to produce complex polymers. 

“I learned so much this summer about organic chemistry and polymer science,” said Santis. “I love learning and enjoy discovering new things. As a researcher, I will be on the front line of discovery and inquiry.”

The reputation of the Chemistry Department is one of the first LVC facts he discovered when researching his college options. An older friend enrolled at The Valley, which sparked Santis’ interest and a visit to see for himself. A track and cross country athlete, Santis met the coaches and other student-athletes on a visit and will compete for the Flying Dutchmen teams.

“Each time I visited, I loved the school more and more,” he said. “I really loved how personal the school is. I feel like this is the place where I can learn the best and be the best I can be.”