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Ford Center for the Fine Arts

Lucy Weyer Johnson

Denver, Colorado and Argentina

Major in Biochemistry

Lucy Weyer Johnson conducted research in the McNair Scholars Program twice during her time at Knox—once in the biology lab and once in the anthropology department.

Lucy Weyer Johnson ’24

What's your major? 

I’m a biochemistry major, and I’m pre-med. I jumped right into the sciences as a first-year and I really loved my biology courses. 

Why did you apply to be a McNair Scholar? 

I wasn't sure if I qualified for the program, but McNair reached out to me as a first-year student to let me know I qualified to be a McNair Scholar, so I applied. The program sounded really great with the amount of resources it offered. I wanted to do research, and McNair was a wonderful opportunity to support me through that journey. 

The day I knew I would find out if I was accepted to the McNair program, I had planned to go hiking. I had no service the whole day, but when I summited the mountain, I got a little bit of service and saw the acceptance email. It was a really great combination of moments. 

What led you to your research path?

As a pre-med student, and then with a major in the sciences in general, I want to have experience with research. I love school, I always have, and research is a way that I can kind of stay in school forever. I really didn't think that I was going to go to graduate school and be a researcher until I got into McNair and spent my first summer in the biology department. I conducted oranismal research, looking at how different exposure to UV radiation impacted development in Tardigrades. I enjoyed doing research but realized I wanted to explore different methods. The next summer, I applied to do an anthropology project with McNair. I wanted to do more ethnographic research and interview people, so the research I did this summer was in a completely different area. The support I had through McNair helped me feel more confident in switching departments. 

How did it feel to receive an award from The National Association for the Practice of Anthropology for your paper "Delivering Queer Health in Rural Central Illinois"?

I am very honored to have been given the award. I could not have done it without the amazing support of my advisor, Jonah Rubin, the McNair Scholars program, and the ability of Knox College to support interdisciplinary research. Knox and the faculty here always encouraged me to pursue my interests even if they were not in the lane of what my major and minor were. Without that support and encouragement, I never would have reached out of my comfort zone to do anthropology research. 

What brought you to Knox? 

My great-aunt actually graduated from here in 1969, so that’s how I found out about Knox. My high school was very hands-on and experiential. At Knox, I really liked the small size. It’s very personable and people-oriented, so I applied and visited here. I visited a lot of campuses. I'm not technically an international student, but I grew up in Argentina, so it was really important to have an international presence at whatever college I went to. There was an international presence at other colleges, but it didn't feel very prominent. When I came here, I did an overnight stay and it felt like half the people I was meeting were international students and that was really exciting for me. Everyone I met was really smart and unique in their own way, and it felt very tight-knit and close.

Is there anything from your experience at Knox that stands out as particularly influential for you?

I’m co-president of Improv Club this year, but I've been part of the process since my first year and seeing the club over four years and then becoming a leader has been really rewarding. It's this cyclical process where you show up, you know nothing, then you grow, and get to teach the next generation of improvisers. 

My journey with research stands out. I don't know if any other college would have let me research in the anthropology department as a biochemistry major and astronomy minor with no anthropology experience. That’s just the culture at Knox. Faculty members are here to help. To be able to go from a biology research project all the way to social sciences was a really valuable experience, and it’s because of that experience that I'm going to grad school for anthropology. 

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Printed on Sunday, April 21, 2024