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Photo by Clayton Cotterell

Claire Young ’17

environmental studies - chemistry

Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio

Who I was when I got to Reed: A person with a plan.  I came to Reed thinking I would go immediately to graduate school for chemistry, get a job in a lab, and be a scientist

Influential book: Organic Chemistry, by Thomas N. Sorrell was my textbook for Organic Chemistry with Professor Rebecca LaLonde ’01 [chemistry 2013–].  I probably spent more time with this book, and its numerous practice problems, over the past four years than any other.

Favorite class: Retro PE—what’s not to love about dodgeball? Also, Prof. Jon Rork’s [economics 2010–] Urban Economics class, which exposed me to something I could see myself doing in the future: urban planning and sustainability.

Cool stuff: I opened the manholes around campus as part of an independent project to get samples of people’s urine to test for drug metabolites (yuck!).  Got to know a diverse set of people at Reed through being both a lab TA and a drop-in tutor at the DoJo for chemistry.

How Reed changed me: Reed has made me consider who I am, who I want to be, and the people I want to surround myself with. I realized in my time here that chemistry is not what drives me or what I am passionate about. Reed has pushed me to seek out a path that will engage and motivate me to do the best work that I can.  

Adviser: Prof. Danielle Cass [chemistry 2010–]

Thesis: “Urban Metals: Just a Hop, Skip, and a Beer Away”

What it’s about: In 2016, researchers created a sensation when, using moss as a bioindicator, they found unusually high levels of heavy metals around Portland. Portland Parks and Recreation and Portland Public Schools also found extremely high levels of lead in water sources. Hops is a crop commonly grown in the Pacific Northwest.  Many people grow hops in their backyard and brew their own beers. But home brewing isn’t regulated.  I am seeking to determine the levels, if any, of cadmium, arsenic, and lead in locally grown hops and whether these metals come through into home-brewed beer (brewed with the sampled hops). 

What it’s really about: Whether or not it is chill to brew your own beer with Portland hops (and drink it).

What’s next: I am living in NYC and working at Publicis Media, in the data sciences.  My incredibly awesome sister is also here!

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