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Microbiologist takes her studies around the world

Honored Graduating Student: Emma Stucki (MMBio)

With the variety of experiences microbiology major Emma Stucki had at BYU, the one common thread has been shifts in perspective. “I always have enjoyed learning things in school that help me better understand the world around me,” she says. Stucki grew up in Yakima, Washington, and currently lives there with her family. She enjoys skiing, hiking outdoors, and is a certified yoga instructor. She taught the yoga club classes at BYU and found many friends through that community.

Before the pandemic began, Stucki learned about the world around her through travel. Her dad served a mission in Italy, inspiring her desire to study abroad. She took several Italian classes at BYU, including an Italian film class. “That’s one of the hard things about studying Italy in America— it’s hard to get close to what we’re studying,” she says.

Stucki left the classroom and studied abroad in Sienna her sophomore year. She said her internship teaching Italian to refugees who spoke French, English, and Arabic in Rome was the highlight of her BYU experience.

Stucki has always liked science and says medical school has been her goal since high school: “I remember being in my AP biology class and thinking, ‘This is how fun learning can be.’” At first, medical school was simply a decision that made sense to Stucki, but her sociology and psychology classes changed her view of medicine and what it provides people.

One of her favorite classes at BYU was an honors interdisciplinary course called race and music. She said the class was taught by BYU music professor Luke Howard and sociology professor Jacob Rugh. Stucki loved the connections between two completely unrelated fields and believes that her sociology classes have helped her understand the social complexities of medicine.

Studying the COVID-19 virus in her BYU courses also helped Stucki better understand the current state of the world. “We talked about viruses that are similar to SARS-Cov-2, such as the SARS-CoV-1 virus that caused an outbreak in the early 2000s,” she explains. “That virus was studied at length, and the studies of previous coronaviruses were instrumental in allowing research meant to combat the COVID-19 pandemic to proceed so quickly.”

Stucki chose to study microbiology because she felt it would be a preview for medical school. She also wanted to learn about pathogens and the immune system, which have become especially relevant during the COVID-19 pandemic.

After graduating, Stucki plans to apply to medical schools in Utah and in her home state of Washington.

“The medical school here is an osteopathic school,” Stucki says of her hometown. “It’s focuses on rural medicine. I’ve heard nothing but positive things about the program.”

Emma Stucki

Stucki’s journey studying microbiology and traveling the world ultimately brought her back to Yakima, Washington, where she hopes to keep learning how to help those around her. The ideal situation for her would be acceptance to medical school in her hometown where she can stay close to family and help people who may not have easy access to medical care.