StoriesHannah Willis ’16

Bringing Science to Life

Veterinary school internship helped pave the way to Hannah Willis’s career in science teaching.

Hannah Willis speaking to colleagues

Lesley University student Hannah Willis has known for a long time that she wants to become a biology or chemistry teacher. 

“I had a lot of great teachers in high school that made science come alive for me,” she said. “A lot of students nowadays don’t develop an interest in science because class doesn’t become active for them. I would love to get my students to become part of the activities because that’s the really cool part about science.”

As a triple-major in biology, mathematics and secondary education, Willis interned at Tufts University’s School of Veterinary Medicine in North Grafton, Mass. She worked in a liver function laboratory for two and half months where she conducted research and analysis of tissue samples to determine the effects of different proteins on liver function.

“I learned about the treatment of cells and different cell culture techniques,” she said. “After I learned all of the techniques, I got to run an experiment all on my own and analyze data. It was neat to see the process from start to finish.”

During her internship, Willis assisted Tufts researchers who are studying the mechanisms that affect liver function so that they can develop treatments for liver malfunctions and disorders. She has a robust lab notebook from her experience in which she recorded all of her research, complete with charts, protein bands and detailed notes.

“What was most interesting for me was to be a part of the research,” said Willis. “As part of our science curriculum we engage in peer reviewed journals, but this was a chance to dive in. I would love to do something like this again.”

Willis, who is from Hookset, NH, was drawn to Lesley by its location in Cambridge, and by its reputation for teacher education and student teaching opportunities, which start freshman year.

“You get to enter the classroom early on, which is really valuable,” added Willis, who graduated from Lesley in 2016.