Next Stop for Alex Bruefach, CST ’18

The past four years at Temple have been quite transformative for Alex Bruefach. Her recruitment to run cross country was the primary reason she came to Temple in fall 2014. She didn’t even have a declared major at the time.

She never ran cross country, however, but she certainly found her way. After conducting undergraduate research for three years at Temple and two summers at Stanford University, this fall the dual biology/chemistry major will embark on a prestigious PhD program in materials science and engineering at the University of California, Berkeley.

“Materials science is such a broad, interdisciplinary field, and I’m excited to be pursuing new opportunities at Berkeley,” says the Temple Honors Program student and CST Science Scholar who will be utilizing electron microscopy to characterize materials in the laboratory of Assistant Professor Mary Scott. Bruefach has received two fellowships from Berkeley, including one to participate in an inaugural research internship program at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, a Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science lab.

At Temple, the Long Island native initially considered pursuing pharmacy. Then she began working as an undergraduate research assistant with Bettina Buttaro, an associate professor of microbiology and immunology with the Lewis Katz School of Medicine. “It really changed my trajectory,” says Bruefach. “I realized that I loved being involved in research and discovery.”

At Stanford, she conducted research in Assistant Professor Debbie G. Senesky’s Extreme Environment Microsystems laboratory and became fourth author on a paper that appeared in Applied Physics Letters. Back at Temple, for the past year she has been studying the ability of ferritin, a mammalian protein, to reduce chromate, an environmental toxin, with Daniel Strongin, professor and chair of the Chemistry Department. “I’ve been able to work pretty independently,” says Bruefach. “It’s been a great experience for an undergraduate.”

She also has volunteered extensively. With Temple’s American Chemical Society student chapter, she has tutored chemistry students and led community service and career development programs. With the Let’s Get Ready (LGR) program at Temple, she served as a math coach; director of a SAT tutoring and college prep program for more than 60 low-income students; and helped pioneer LGR’s first on-campus TU college mentoring program.

“It’s been really rewarding,” she says. “That’s why, ultimately, I want to become a professor. It’s really become important to me to continue to conduct research and mentor.”

-Bruce Beans