by Angela Herring 

Sit­ting around a dinner table talking about bio­chem­istry might not be everyone’s ideal Friday night, but it is for one group of third years in the Col­lege of Sci­ence. Jen­nifer Endress, Adele Musi­cant, Erin Ask­ounis, Rachel Yao, and Sam Genardi com­prise the exec­u­tive board for the North­eastern Uni­ver­sity Bio­chem­istry Club, which was recently named the out­standing chapter of the Amer­ican Society of Bio­chem­istry and Mol­e­c­ular Biology.

“We’re really good friends, and I think that helps us as an e-​​board,” said Musi­cant over coffee at Panera Bread on Hunt­ington Avenue. Fin­ishing her sen­tence, Endress, the club’s pres­i­dent said, “I think that’s why the club is so successful.”

“This is what our e-​​board meet­ings look like all the time,” said Yao. Most of them take place at a restau­rant over dinner, where con­ver­sa­tions about vice pres­i­dent Musicant’s work on plant-​​produced anti-​​cancer com­pounds or sec­re­tary Yao’s co-​​op at MIT dove­tail with dis­cus­sions of upcoming club meet­ings or a recap of the cur­rent budget from club trea­surer Askounis.

Each year, the ASBMB Under­grad­uate Affil­iate Net­work rec­og­nizes one chapter that has demon­strated out­standing lead­er­ship and a com­mit­ment to both sci­ence lit­eracy and education. Chapters are judged on campus events, par­tic­i­pa­tion with the broader asso­ci­a­tion, and com­mu­nity out­reach activities.

This year, Genardi, who serves as the club’s vol­un­teer coor­di­nator, helped orga­nize com­mu­nity events with the Boston Sci­ence Fair and the Sci­ence Club for Girls. There, they showed the younger stu­dents, who ranged in age from three to 13 years old, how to iso­late the genetic mate­rial from peas. “The most inter­esting part of that was having to explain the con­cept of DNA to kids who’d never heard of DNA before,” said Musi­cant. “It was a great experience.”

The group tries to meet biweekly, but, as Endress said, “we’re not going to waste anyone’s time. It’s actu­ally going to be a mean­ingful event or we won’t have a meeting that week.” Mem­bers may find them­selves wan­dering around a museum together on a Sat­urday after­noon or lis­tening to a panel of stu­dents talk about their co-​​op experiences.

The five women agreed that the Bio­chem­istry Club offers a home base for stu­dents studying bio­chem­istry. But it also con­nects them to other groups on campus, such as the Amer­ican Chem­ical Society chapter and NEURONS, the North­eastern Under­grad­uate Researchers of Neuroscience.

These groups, together with the Pre-​​Med Club, orga­nized a mas­sively suc­cessful event in Jan­uary called Futures in the Sci­ences, where prac­ticing sci­en­tists spoke to the stu­dent body about careers in the field. Next year, the Bio­chem­istry Club will spear­head that event, and the group hopes to bring a high-​​profile bio­chem­istry researcher to campus.

Their suc­cess can be mea­sured not just by the plaque they received on Monday, but also by the growing interest among mem­bers and the sub­se­quent increase in events.

“We have big plans for next year,” said Endress.

Originally published in news@Northeastern on April 24, 2013

photo courtesy David Budil