Chemical romance

Chemical romance

Ryan combines his two passions: chemistry and outdoor recreation.


HOMETOWN: Hudsonville, Mich.
MAJOR: biochemistry
AWARDS: 2012-13 Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship
RESEARCH ADVISOR: Prof. David Benson
FUTURE PLANS: graduate school in biochemistry

Ryan Martinie is a romantic, and that applies to the way he approaches one of his first loves: chemistry. In fact, he can wax poetic about his research topic, “Proteins as antioxidants using tyrosine and cysteine sidechains,” so that even the chemistry-illiterate can understand why it’s important. For him, science and faith are intertwined:

“I love the mystery involved in my work, the questions and answers that we get to explore.”

What does he study? Amino acids—which make up protein molecules. Specifically, he studies what he describes as “side chain crosslinks” in specific amino acids that may act as temporary antioxidents. This temporary antioxidant action protects cells from cancer-causing free radicals.

The implication? Certain proteins (five, including the one Ryan and his fellow researchers discovered) may help ward off cancer in cells.

Ryan is also passionate about outdoor recreation, which he pursues through Calvin’s many climbing, hiking and kayaking trips. For the past two summers, he’s taken time off from his research to lead some of Calvin’s Wilderness Orientation trips for new students.

VERGE: winter 2012

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