Biochemistry major has found the ‘and’ in every stage of his Lafayette journey
By Shannon Sigafoos
Carter Brand ’25 has embraced the “power of and” at Lafayette in more ways than one.
The biochemistry major describes himself as “an ambitious student with an aim to research neurological conditions by combining expertise in biochemistry, physics, and neuroscience.” In his two years at Lafayette, however, he’s run up a list of accomplishments and accolades that keep growing.
Brand is an Excel Research Scholar, McKelvy Scholar, and Marquis Fellowship recipient. He was a member of the swimming and diving team (2021-22) and is currently a secretary of Tri Beta Biological Honor Society and a member of American Chemical Society, International Students Association, Neuroscience Club, and Physics Club.
Now, the Denver, Colo., native can add 2023 Barry Goldwater Scholarship to his impressive résumé, as Brand was one of three Lafayette students awarded the competitive scholarship this year. Brand and his peers Samantha Greenberg ’24 and Anna DiFelice ’24 are among the 413 scholars selected from an estimated pool of over 1,267 nominees from 427 academic institutions across the country.
“Carter has an intellectual ability and creativity that is enviable. His mind is constantly percolating with ideas for interdisciplinary and novel research. Nor is he afraid to approach faculty about those research ideas,” says Julia Goldberg, associate dean of advising and co-curricular programs at Lafayette. “I loved his gumption as well as his ability to engage in self-directed study while developing his hypothesis.”
Brand has been involved in two major research projects. The first is a self-designed study under the mentorship of Ken Haug, associate professor of chemistry, combining physical chemistry and neuroscience to computationally analyze neurotransmitters in their excited state as a potential new form of photobiomodulation therapy–a form of light therapy that utilizes light sources for the relief of pain and inflammation. The second, under the mentorship of Michael Bertucci, assistant professor of chemistry, is focusing on peptide synthesis of probiotic and good bacteria (L.plantarum) to gain insight into how it communicates.
“I had to sum up my research into only three pages, which was especially challenging,” Brand recalls of his Goldwater application process. “The whole process was challenging, as it required me to know exactly what I want to do in the future as a sophomore with diverse interests.”
However, while studying abroad in Senegal over the winter interim–where he and his peers explored various elements of Senegalese culture–he was able to complete the application at the hotel café overlooking the beach. “Although the process was stressful,” he says, “I enjoyed being able to work on it while studying abroad at the stunning Senegalese beachside.”
Brand’s next steps include immersing himself and building connections within the Goldwater community, including attending multiple events involving this year’s scholars. He’s also going to take time to decide how to apply the Goldwater funding to his academics over the next two years.
Ultimately, his career goal is to help solve what he calls “the big questions.”
“What is consciousness? How can we cure mental illness? I hope to combine physics, chemistry, neuroscience, and philosophy to answer these questions and positively contribute to society. I plan to pursue a Ph.D. as I work toward this goal, and plan to work in a research laboratory focused on answering these questions,” he confirms. “By pushing me to challenge the status quo and my academic boundaries,, the faculty of the Chemistry Department have significantly influenced my success.”