TU’s Spectacular Seniors: College of Engineering and Natural Sciences

Caleb Lareau

Lareau is a mathematics and biochemistry double major. His discoveries in the field of biochemistry include the first genetic association with the rare neurological condition neurosarcoidosis, the first genetic mechanism that united several different mechanisms of antidepressant therapy, and novel effectors in immunological conditions like systemic lupus erythematosus and response to the influenza vaccine.

Lareau has worked as a volunteer computer programming instructor at Will Rogers High School and developed a platform to increase bone marrow donations, which has lead to multiple TU students donating life-saving marrow to individuals around the country.

After graduation Lareau is going to Harvard to pursue his PhD in Biostatistics, and in 10 years he hopes to “be a professor at a university conducting world-class research on the genetic basis of disease by day and a gym-rat pulling sumo with my good friends Zack Kirkendoll and Colby DeWeese by night.”

For underclassmen, Lareau urges, “don’t resist changes in your own life … no matter how substantial. Embrace the new opportunities and new ways of thinking as a means to pushing yourself to become better.”

Lareau will be giving a TEDx Talk entitled “Insecurities: How to define the line between what makes or breaks us,” on April 24th.

Lareau said, “In this talk, I’ll be imparting a significant portion of my life philosophy in hopes that others can adapt to my way of thinking to better their own lives. I hope this puts my legacy on the level of my good friend, Dr. Justin Chalker (aka JC).”

The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry sent a really long list of Lareau’s awards and recognitions, but we opted to save money on printing and just mention his National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.

Mitchell Trafford

Trafford is a chemical engineering and mathematics double major and his focus is in chemistry research. Trafford has studied several important reactions that are used on a daily basis in the synthesis of things like pharmaceuticals, agricultural compounds and plastics.

His lab group has made fundamental discoveries about the nature of these reactions and has proposed various methods for making these reactions more efficient, economic and environmentally-friendly. He co-invented a catalyst system for use in these reactions, and has published work in the “Journal of Organic Chemistry.”

Outside of chemistry research, Trafford is a member of Engineers Without Borders. This organization allows him to use his engineering studies to help address problems in the local community. He has been involved in an effort to assist the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma with their food distribution to the surrounding area.

After graduation Trafford plans to study chemical engineering and material science at the doctoral level. In 10 years, he hopes to graduate with his doctorate. Trafford wants to become a researcher in the materials/nanotechnology field.

Trafford’s advice for underclassmen is “to get involved with research or faculty projects as soon as possible (it’s never too early or late!). Even if you are not considering graduate studies or a research career, these opportunities can be quite beneficial.”

“I would also advise underclassmen to find an appropriate balance in their undergraduate studies,” Trafford said. “Don’t forget to spend time with your friends and to maintain contact with your family and friends from back home. Getting involved on campus can often distract from these activities, and it is extremely important to maintain these relationships throughout your collegiate career.”

Karson Bizzell

Bizzell will be graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Geosciences, her focus being on structural geology and geophysics. During her senior year she has completed three separate geophysical survey projects focused on mapping environmental contaminants moving through the shallow subsurface.

One of the projects she conducted was in Miami, OK and had the most significant impact on surrounding communities. “As for bettering the university, I was able to emphasize a more environmental focus on our widely known petroleum based department. This might motivate future students to focus on environmental aspects within the geosciences department,” Bizzell said.

After graduation, Bizzell is going to stay at the University of Tulsa to pursue a master’s degree in geology and geophysics. “Within 10 years I hope to start my own geophysical consulting company, and possibly go back to school to get a PhD to establish myself as an environmental geoscience researcher,” she shared.

“My advice for any underclassmen would be to never be afraid of pursuing something they are passionate about no matter what year of college they are in,” Bizzell said.

“The legacy I envision to leave behind would be one of passion and purpose,” said Bizzell. “I truly care about the Department of Geosciences and all of my fellow students and professors within it. My goal is to graduate from TU knowing that I made a positive impact on my department whether that be from pursuing and advancing my own academic career or just encouraging other students to follow their dreams.”

David Gogolakis

Gogolakis will be graduating with a degree in mechanical engineering. He was a member of the group that founded MADE at TU (Make A Difference Engineering) and has served as the group’s president for the past 2 years.

Gogolakis’s senior project is to work alongside six other seniors in order to design and build a mobile cooking center that The Little Light House can use to teach children about cooking, as well as help them develop their fine motor and communication skills in a fun and safe environment.

After graduation, Gogolakis will be working as a structural engineer for John Zink Hamworthy Combustion. In 10 years, he sees himself having a supervisor role at the company where he works.

“I would advise anyone who is reading this to: trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, work hard, giv(e) your best to God the Father for His honor and glory, and leave the results in His hands,” he said.

The legacy Gogolakis wants to leave behind is, “That in whatever he did, David Gogolakis did ‘all to the glory of God’ (1 Corinthians 10:31), and that everyone I met would know they have value to me because they are made in the image of God.”

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