The same mind that produced “A Nonalkaline Method for Isolating Sequencing-Ready Plasmids” also produced a paper called “Representations of Death in Emily Dickinson.” One sprang from the right side of Ronik Khachatoorian’s remarkable brain, the other from the left.
His ability to traverse the usually separate worlds of plasmids and poetry—and to excel in both—led to Khachatoorian’s selection as the Cal State Northridge 2008 Wolfson Scholar, an honor reserved for its top graduating senior.
Khachatoorian transferred from Tehran’s Azad University in 2004, attracted to CSUN by its range of options in biology and literature, as well as for its affordability, “an important factor for a new immigrant.” He took on a double major in biology and English literature and compiled a 3.99 grade point average overall, in the process becoming what College of Science and Mathematics Dean Jerry Stinner calls “one of the best students that I have seen in my 26 years as a professor and university administrator.”
A study in contrasts, Khachatoorian is fluent in three languages—Armenian, Farsi and English—and soft-spoken in each. He is as comfortable with molecular biology as he is with biotechnology, as steeped in the poetry of Shakespeare as he is in the verse of the great Persian poet Ferdowsi.
But science is clearly the path he will follow. Khachatoorian is still haunted by the death of a childhood friend, from cancer. “I thought cancer was a death sentence,” he said. “But I always wanted to do something about it.”
At CSUN, he found a small army of faculty mentors eager to help him “do something” about his old nemesis, cancer, by providing invaluable research and publishing opportunities. Khachatoorian’s continues at UCLA, where he is seeking a doctorate in molecular biology or human genetics.
Visit www.csun.edu/csm/ for information on CSUN's College of Science and Mathematics.
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