#ElonGrad 2021 spotlight: Seth McKee, chemistry

In this series, Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences is shining the spotlight on distinguished members of the Class of 2021 from a wide array of disciplines.

An Honors Fellow and Lumen Scholar, Seth McKee ’21 is the recipient of the Department of Chemistry’s Senior Award in Organic Chemistry.

Seth McKee '21
Seth McKee ’21

McKee was interested in chemistry in high school and drawn to Elon for its focus on undergraduate research and the department’s faculty. He participated in two undergraduate research projects.

McKee is a member of Phi Kappa Phi and Phi Lambda Upsilon honors societies.

Tell us about your two undergraduate research projects.

My first undergraduate research project is an investigation into chemotherapy resistance in pancreatic cancer. I came to Elon intending to go to medical school, and I have always been very interested in medicine. I also have a passion for chemistry, so my cancer research is a product of both of those academic interests. (McKee was awarded the Lumen Prize for this research project.)

My second research project is in investigating the cause of burnout in pre-health undergraduates. I had taken a class that discussed burnout and was seeing some of the signs of burnout in my peers. I wanted to investigate the cause of burnout and what could be done to minimize its prevalence.

What are you proudest of when you reflect on your time at Elon?

I would say my proudest moment is completing my Honors thesis. After four years of working toward a goal, it was a great feeling to finally have it come to fruition.

Did you work closely with a member of faculty? How did that shape your experience?

Associate Professor of Chemistry Victoria Del Gaizo Moore is my research mentor. She has been beside me every step of the way, guiding my research. She also played a pivotal role in helping me decide what to do after graduation. I am now planning on getting my M.D./Ph.D. after working at a cancer research lab at Duke University for a few years. Most importantly, I believe Dr. Moore played an important role in teaching me how to be a scientist, guiding me through the research process.

What are your future plans?

I just received an offer to work as a laboratory technician at the Wood Lab at Duke University. The lab does primary cancer research and their work is somewhat similar to what I have been doing as an undergraduate.

What advice would you give future Elon students?

Remember to take care of yourself. I think it’s very easy to get caught up in classes and grades. Taking time to relax and take care of yourself isn’t just important, it’s necessary for success.

What’s your favorite Elon tradition?

College Coffee. I love the sense of community it brought. It was one of the many things I missed due to COVID.