The Gustavian Weekly

Gustie of the Week: Abby Trouth | The Gustavian Weekly

By Lily Winter - Staff Writer | May 17, 2019 | Gustie of the Week, Variety

Science has always been Junior Biochemistry Major Abby Trouth’s first love. As both her mother and father teach chemistry and biology respectively, Trouth was always fascinated when her parents would bring home their latest papers to grade or their most current text books.
“My brother and I would always pester them with questions when we saw them grading, but they were happy to answer because that saw it was something me and my brother were excited about,” Trouth said.
Trouth’s love for science only grew when she participated in her high school study-away program, Seeds for Change. In this program, Trouth and a group of her classmates travelled to Costa Rica to study leaf cutter ants on a chocolate plant over a series of ten days.
“There was never an ah-ha moment in which I knew I wanted to pursue science, but it was around the time I went to Costa Rica that I realized I had a real passion for the sciences. The professor who ran the camp (based out of one of the University of Costa Rica’s programs) would have to come and find me in our work space, and be like, Abby, you missed lunch again,” Trouth said.
It was only a matter of time before Trouth’s passions would lead her to the halls of Nobel, the academic building where science is based at Gustavus Adolphus.
“I have extended family who lives past Mankato, so I’ve driven through St. Peter many times on family visits, but for the longest idea I had no idea that I was even driving past Gustavus,” Trouth said.
“What attracted me to the school was the interface between the two disciplines of biology and chemistry instead of treating them as separate fields. The STEM emphasis was really important to me and I liked the personal connections I could make with my professors in a small school setting and how each professor really takes the time to work with their students. I don’t know if you could get that same experience in a larger school setting,” Trouth said.
“When Abby was a first-year student, she approached me about doing research over the January term. She hadn’t had me for classes, yet, but she was curious enough to track me down and find a research opportunity. It was remarkable and delightful for a first-semester first-year student to be that bold,” Chemistry Professor Scott Bur said.
“One of the best things you can do is to go to your professor’s office hours if you have questions about the subject matter, and if you don’t, just go ahead and introduce yourself.”
“Get excited about your professor’s research because all professors, especially those in STEM, will be excited to talk to you about their work. I am so grateful for all those connections because they are what lead me to my research opportunities throughout the years and during all my summers since my time here at Gustavus. It’s always nice to have a professor in your corner to become a mentor. It’s also a bonus that all the Gustavus profs really care about their students, so you never feel like you are taking up their time. It shows that the Gustavus community really cares,” Trouth said.
Having known Trouth since her first year, Biology and Chemistry Professor Jeff Dahlseid has been impressed by her growth over Trouth’s time at Gustavus.
“Since Abby jumped right into research science her first year, her scientific abilities, confidence and laboratory and intellectual independence have grown significantly, as you would expect, and this has been largely a result of her remarkable diligence. I would say she has developed great resiliency, and I imagine she would probably name this herself as an important gain, because you need this trait to stick with and do good science,” Dahlseid said.
Trouth’s passion for the sciences are even evident outside of the classroom.
Trouth’s close friend Junior Biochemistry Major Haley Moran reflected on the two’s J-term antics last year.
“We went traying down the hill and she repeatedly tried to snowboard down the hill on a tray, always getting right back up after falling face first in the snow because, as any scientist knows, everything must be repeated at least in triplicate to determine if a result is consistent. At that moment, I realized that Abby Trouth is not only brilliant and hardworking but also silly, fun, and full of life,” Moran said.
Besides her excellent academic standing and her participation in scope of research projects, Trouth’s most recent accomplishment is her standing as a Goldwater recipient. The Barry Goldwater Foundation was founded by Congress in 1986 in honor of the Arizona Senator of the same name and is considered one of the most prestigious scholarships in the science world. Trouth received this high honor this May 4 on Honors Day.
“I’m a very typical Minnesotan in that I don’t like accepting praise, but standing on that stage and seeing all the support that the community, I was really touched how we all support each other’s victories and that extends to times of failure in that we lift each other up and keep going,” Trouth said.
After the school year ends Trouth will be working in a lab in Colorado this summer.
“No matter what I do, I always want to be learning,” Trouth said, an ironic statement from an individual who educates her own community so much both through the Science on Saturdays program as well as the Chemistry Club’s outreach events.

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