Emily Erickson, daughter of Kathleen and Bruce Erickson, enjoys her work at the Purdue University Mammary Gland Biology Lab, where she does research on cells, lactation and more.
Emily Erickson, daughter of Kathleen and Bruce Erickson, enjoys her work at the Purdue University Mammary Gland Biology Lab, where she does research on cells, lactation and more.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Emily Erickson isn’t stressing too much about her upcoming final exams at Purdue University. That’s because she is excited and busy as she prepares for her summer internship in Washington D.C.

Erickson, a sophomore biochemistry major from Clarks Hill, will spend her summer as an intern with the National Institutes of Health. She will move to D.C. to help research breast cancer in a mammary stem cell biology lab.

Her work there will build on the experience she already has gained working for Purdue’s Mammary Biology Lab, where she studies lactation.

Her big dreams to do research all started in her hometown, just a few miles away from Purdue.

“I grew up on an acreage where we had dairy goats and every kind of poultry that you can imagine,” she said. “I milked our goats twice a day, and that was a great experience that pushed me to the lab job I have now, in the Mammary Gland Biology Lab.”

Erickson has done a lot during her first two years at Purdue, and her hard work led her to the honor of being named the Top Sophomore in the College of Agriculture.

Her roots in agriculture and 4-H inspired her to do research in the College of Ag, and even to start up the Purdue Goat Club. Her love for animals, especially goats, is obvious as she works hard to help the new club grow.

“Coming to Purdue, I was a little disappointed to find that there wasn’t a goat club,” she said. “So I joined the Dairy Club, which is great. But towards the beginning of last fall, I got together with a bunch of goat friends who had shown together to talk about starting a club. With the help of Dr. Fernandez, the associate dean here, we got rolling, gained momentum and here we are.”

Erickson said that the club focuses on every kind of goat breed, including dairy, meat and fiber goats. The club hosts speakers and events and hopes to take a few field trips to goat farms in the future.

Her talents reach beyond research and agriculture, extending into the world of music. Erickson is a principal viola player in the Purdue Philharmonic Orchestra.

“I started playing violin when I was 3 years old,” she said. “I picked up viola in high school and this year switched to viola in the orchestra. I love the orchestra because Purdue doesn’t have a music major, but everyone who is in the orchestra is doing it because they love it and because it’s a great experience.”

Erickson has earned several scholarships and honors, including the Astronaut Scholarship and the Edwin T. Mertz Scholarship in Biochemistry. She has excelled academically and is in the Dean’s Scholars program.

In the future, she would like to pursue higher education and earn a master’s degree.