Alumnae: Alumnae Stories

Alumnae Stories

Angelar Kanini Muthike Conducts Research With Passion

June 2017

Angelar Muthike Chemistry major Angelar Kanini Muthike, C'2017, was born and raised in Makueni, a county in the eastern part of Kenya, East Africa. A passionate researcher, she plans to pursue a Ph.D. in analytical chemistry and focus on bioanalytical research.

Muthike began conducting independent research when she was in high school. Her research centered around developing a technique to make cheaper meat tenderizer using papaya -- the most available and abundant resource in the region --  because the majority of her family members suffered from dental problems that prevented them from eating githeri, the country's staple food made of hard corn and beans. Her mother struggled to find alternative, softer foods for her family and had to prepare multiple meals to accommodate everyone -- an extremely difficult task considering the harsh climate. The young Muthike purposed to find a better solution to ameliorate her family's pain and presented her research at district, regional and divisional competitions where she often received first place honors.

Spelman Intensifies Muthike's Passion for Research

While at Spelman, Muthike actively participated in both analytical and physical chemistry research, both on and off campus. She served as an undergraduate research assistant under Peter Chen, Ph.D., professor of chemistry and biochemistry, for more than three years. Under his leadership, she worked on various projects in both coherent spectroscopy and Pearl: The Spelman Lidar Project. During her sophomore year, she also co-authored a paper with Dr. Chen -- a rare achievement for an undergraduate researcher.

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This research experience intensified my curiosity and enhanced my ability to recognize research problems, develop, discuss and share scientific ideas through both casual talks and formal presentations. It also instilled in me the virtue of determination and perseverance during research.
Muthike's undergraduate research experiences also include an internship with MIT Summer Research Program; a collaboration with the Michael Heaven Research Group at Emory University; participation in sponsored research focusing on "Devices Programmed to Detect Autistic Peoples’ Movement Especially at Night;" and presentations at the 2016 Spelman Pioneer Award in Research Competition.

Angelar MuthikeConducting research at Spelman taught Muthike many valuable lessons. "I learned and practiced data analysis, critical thinking and reviewing, documentation and reporting, teaching, optical arrangement, construction, literature search, computation, presentation of findings, leadership, service and responsibility," she said.

This summer, the recent alumna is interning with Dr. Sushant Malhotra in the discovery chemistry department at Genentech, a biotech company in San Francisco, California. In the fall, she will attend graduate school at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

The College's 'Road to Graduation' Video Features Muthike