Karolina Brook '10, alumna

Karolina Brook’s interests as an undergraduate were vast and varied, from chemistry and linguistics to international studies. Today Brook '10 is studying medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Between her first and second year of medical school, she worked with ALIMA (The Alliance for International Medical Action) researching the expansion and increased decentralization of an existing malnutrition program in the Mirriah region of Niger.

Her desire for a first class undergraduate education propelled her thousands of miles from her home in South Africa to Princeton. Early on, she took classes in molecular biology and volunteered in Professor Lynn Enquist's lab. By junior year, she realized that organic chemistry was her real passion, declared chemistry as her concentration and found a research home in the lab of Professor Martin Semmelhack, who works closely with Professor Bonnie Bassler.

Inspired by the work of these professors, she completed a senior thesis on a mechanism by which bacteria communicate to coordinate behavior in the cholera bacterium, which is known as quorum sensing.

She was eager as a student to share her love of science with others. Brook served as a peer tutor in chemistry, and she completed a certificate course in chemistry outreach.

But her academic interests extended beyond the sciences. She earned a certificate in linguistics with a research focus on languages of South Africa, a topic that resulted in a trip to Mumbai, India, to present a paper at a conference during the spring of her senior year. She spent six weeks in Kolkata, India, and in Bangladesh in the summer of her junior year as an Adel Mahmoud Global Health Scholar. The program, offered through the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, supports the global health work of Princeton undergraduates.

By the time she graduated, her academic accomplishments had won her a number of honors. She graduated summa cum laude, was recognized as a member of the Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Xi honor societies, won the Merck Index Award from the Chemistry Department and the Gregory T. Pope ’80 Prize for Science Writing.

Away from the lab, Brook actively participated in a range of campus activities. Soon after arriving at Princeton she became editor-in-chief of The Prism, a literary magazine focused on diversity, differences and international topics. She was a member of Colonial Club, one of Princeton's historic eating clubs. She served in leadership roles on the Student Health Advisory Board and the Wilson College Council, and performed community service through the Student Volunteers Council and Community House.

As an international student, Brook had a particular interest in global awareness. She served on a committee to launch the Bridge Year Program, which supports a year of service abroad for students before they join the Princeton community. She was also president of the Consortium of International Student Organizations.

Though Princeton was far from home, Brook says it was a very rewarding experience. “I really appreciate all the opportunities I had at Princeton that I wouldn’t have had if I had stayed in South Africa,” she says.