From Wesleyan to the World

Natalie (Mercer) Payne ’19
Ohio County High School
Major: Biology and Chemistry
Minor: Music (trombone)
Accepted to the University of Arizona – Ph.D. program in Genetics

Natalie Payne anticipates that her career will someday take her around the world. In graduate school, she plans to work in the conservation of Arizona’s wild cat species (pumas, bobcats and jaguars), focusing on measuring the genetic diversity, health and sustainability of populations of cats. She decided three years ago that her first step was Wesleyan; she knew the outstanding reputation of the science programs and the high acceptance rate of Wesleyan graduates to medical schools.

“I’m going to miss the Wesleyan faculty,” said Natalie. “They were interested in my success and gave me lots of opportunities to gain experience in research and peer education. I’m glad I came here. It was the right decision, and the small school environment was perfect for me.”Natalie spent the summer of 2017 in Zimbabwe studying and recording behavioral genetics of lions. “That was my first research project and a great experience,” Natalie remembered. “I am very grateful to Dr. Finerty for sharing her expertise in behavioral research and helping me narrow the focus of my project into something feasible.”

Lab research this year with Dr. Krystal Hamorsky focused on developing biosensors for flaviviruses (i.e. Zika). “Dr. Hamorsky was super patient as I learned through my mistakes, and she taught me the practical aspects of research,” explained Natalie.

Natalie says she found inorganic chemistry challenging and complex. “Dr. Whitney Schmidt is a great professor and very helpful. She made it interesting.”

Natalie married Nathan Payne ’18, the choir director at Wesleyan Heights United Methodist Church, in 2017. He will pursue a master’s in music theory at the University of Arizona.

“I’ve learned valuable lab skills at Wesleyan and had the opportunity to present research findings at conferences at Murray State, Western Kentucky University and in Orlando,” remarked Natalie. “Wesleyan was the perfect first step and prepared me well for the University of Arizona.”