Alum Advice: Dr. Elizabeth Sprague

Alum Advice: Dr. Elizabeth Sprague

In another successful, annual Alumni Family Weekend, the University of Dallas campus was happy to welcome back and reunite alumni from across the nation, including Dr. Elizabeth Sprague (’93). During her visit, Sprague offered a lecture, “Molecular Biophysics in Drug Discovery,” as a part of the Clare Blooth Luce Lecture series. She also took the time to sit down at a breakfast with students to talk one-on-one about science majors, career options, and the UD undergraduate experience.

Although she pursued a physics major at UD, Sprague completed her graduate studies in Biophysics at Johns Hopkins University, leaning more towards biology by that point. With a specialty in structure biology, Sprague is currently involved in industrial research for a pharmaceutical company in Boston and her research focuses on early drug discovery in oncology. It is a constant work in progress, one in which she said there are endless opportunities to learn.

Sprague offered several pieces of advice to UD students considering a career in a scientific field. First, research experience is necessary before graduation, but the choice of area to research is relatively open-ended. She also stressed the great opportunity that a liberal arts education can afford, encouraging UD students to “take as many disciplines as possible” in order to prepare for anything and optimize career options. Sprague offered comfort to those worried about being unprepared post-graduation, saying, “You learn as you go. You can’t learn everything in college!” Finally, Dr. Sprague conveyed that it is not looked down upon to take a gap year as a science major before grad school; in fact, it is not advisable to jump into it without being certain of the decision.

Expressing gratitude for her alma mater and the chance to see its growth and development during the Alumni Weekend, Sprague remarked on the school’s continued dedication to the sciences: “It is fabulous to see UD’s energy and diversity.” When asked the ways in which an education from the University of Dallas prepared her for life, Sprague responded, “The diversity of the science background here at UD and the liberty in UD’s education to think and write fosters the ability to think critically and understand situations from different perspectives.”

She also offered insights to a career in research: “The process involves a lot of failure. What keeps me going is the memory of those ‘Eureka!’ moments. There is no better feeling than having a breakthrough for the first time, and being the only one to have made a new scientific discovery.”

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