A Change of Plans

Posted on December 21st, 2011 by

Carrie Johnson discovers through a summer research position at a medical center that a career in research is where her passion lies.

Coming into her freshman year at Gustavus, Carrie Johnson was planning on a career in pharmacy. Her experiences in lab hadn’t piqued her interest so a career in research wasn’t in her plans. So when Chemistry Professor Dwight Stoll approached her to do work in his lab, she was hesitant. Her junior year however, she decided to try it out and was surprised by how much she liked it.

“It was way different than lab for class,” she said. She found her relationships with her professors, which were more comfortable and conversational, to be especially different from the structure of lab for class. She also found original research to be more challenging and rewarding. Carrie began to consider that perhaps research was a good fit after all. She began to investigate summer research opportunities on her own. Her professors helped by sending along research opportunities they had received.

All in all, Carrie sent out 10 applications through the REU program and before long, she was packing up her bags and heading to the University of Texas Southwest Medical Center. Her summer research involved developing a method for the natural product synthesis of biologically active compounds known as the Anathaspiramides. Through the many ups and downs of her 10-week experience, Carrie surprised many people with her strong work ethic and problem-solving skills that she had honed at Gustavus. Carrie summarized her experience at UT Southwestern as “resoundingly positive”.

Carrie is now considering a career in medicinal research, at the intersection of biology and chemistry. She is pleased with where her hard work has taken her, even if it isn’t where she thought she’d go.


Carrie Johnson presenting a poster of her research for a symposium at the end of the summer.



  1. Mayra Taylor says:

    !Bien por Carrie!. Buena historia Meredith. Gracias.

  2. D. Johnson says:

    Nice article and photo, Carrie!