Belle Henry - Biochemistry

“I love bacteria!” This statement may seem odd at first, but for Belle Henry, it could not be more natural. This May 2018, Henry graduated from Geneva College with a B.S. in Biochemistry. As a child on her family’s Pennsylvanian dairy farm, Henry wanted to become an English teacher, but upon reaching high school, her love of science and math took root. As Henry continued into college, this love for the biological sciences blossomed and deepened as she studied the body, microorganisms and chemical reactions in detail.

Belle Henry - Biochemistry“It think it is very exciting to problem solve, and I enjoy learning a lot. With research, you’re constantly trouble shooting, constantly problem solving,” states Henry. “Then, when you take a step back, you realize that you’re part of a larger body of work that actually has an impact on the well-being of people. This is important for me to feel fulfilled.”

While at Geneva, Henry was an extremely active student and took any opportunity to develop her researching abilities. In addition to being a teaching assistant for chemistry labs, Henry was an avid tutor, helping other students see more fully the beauty of the sciences. Henry was also involved with the honors program all four years. As a part of this program, she completed a bioinformatics research project, finished and presented an Academics Partners Project on pigment production in a bacterium, and planned events as a member of the honors council. During the summer, she completed a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) at the University of Massachusetts where she coded in python, gained skills in writing and scientific communication, and performed bioinformatics research. The following summer, Henry was chosen for a research internship at her dream school, the University of California San Francisco (UCSF). There, she not only learned independence and confidence, but she gained valuable research experience as she studied the virulence of tuberculosis, research that provided her the resources to present at two different conferences in the fall of her senior year.

Through her research, Henry expanded her travel experience, moving westward from Pennsylvania to Arizona, Utah and California. Over spring break, she moved southward to visit Puerto Rico with her Humanities class. Henry loved traveling to the different sites, and she was even able to connect with a Puerto Rican friend from one of her internships. Henry states, “I’m really glad I was able to have the experience; I feel like I now have a much bigger heart for Puerto Rico.”

During her time at Geneva, Henry gained a wealth of scientific knowledge, but her education extended much farther than gaining factual information. Receiving a Christ-centered education enabled her to think critically and to find the source of her identity. “My identity is not wrapped up in what I accomplish. It is something I can be proud of, and it can be part of who I am, but I’m not always going to succeed; I am going to fail,” Henry shares. “But even when I fail, I know who I am in Christ, and that is what matters most.”

As she moves on from Geneva, Henry is excited to continue learning. Currently, she is a Research Assistant at the University of Pittsburgh for their Microbiology and Molecular Genetics Department, and in a couple of years, she hopes to start working toward some type of a Ph.D. Although Henry is unsure of the road ahead, she trusts God to guide her as she follows His leading one step at a time.

-Olivia Forton ‘19