by Hannah Nicholson, opinion editor
On Dec. 20, Saegertown High School chemistry students had the opportunity to learn about what they could do in the science field from alumni Joe Braymer who graduated from Saegertown in 2004.
Chemistry teacher Mrs. Kelli Peters organized his visit. She contacted Braymer through his mother, who she sees often during the summer. “It’s nice seeing how successful our kids are when they leave here,” Mrs. Peters said. Mrs. Peters was aware that he was doing research, and even being a chemistry teacher could not prepare her for the kind of research he does. “It’s way beyond me,” she said. In the future Mrs. Peters would like for him to come back to talk more about his research, and to talk to Mr. Greco’s advanced biology class as well.
After his graduation from Saegertown, Braymer went to Edinboro for his bachelor’s degree in chemistry. Then he moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan to attend the University of Michigan for his doctoral degree in organic chemistry. While he was getting his PhD, he began to do his own research at Michigan where he researched the development of small molecules that could be used to treat Alzheimer’s Disease. After receiving his doctorate, Braymer attended Indiana University Bloomington for his post-doctoral research position to expand into biochemistry.
Braymer now lives in Marburg, Germany and is working on a second post-doctoral at Philipps University Marburg. “I call myself a bioinorganic chemist,” Braymer said. He works with trying to understand how transitional metals are important to life. “You need these metals to live, and I try to understand why,” Braymer said. “I work at understanding how proteins fold and function, and how that function relates to a cellular function.”
Braymer mainly works with yeast cells which serve as a model cell for understanding human physiology. Braymer hopes that in the future his research could create medicines to help correct metabolic disorders.
“I look around me, I see colors, I see lights and I really want to know why something is red or has a certain form. That’s chemistry. I want to know why things are the way they are,” said Braymer, while talking to students in Mrs. Kelli Peters’ class about why he became a chemist.
While he was studying in Michigan, Braymer met his girlfriend from Germany. “That’s the main reason I am there,” Braymer said. “I am visiting for Christmas of course.”
Being a Saegertown alum, Braymer has some fond memories of high school. “What I remember most about Saegertown is wrestling. I wrestled every year and although I never reached my goals, I learned a lot about myself through wrestling,” Braymer said.
“I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to SHS. From what I saw, there was a lot of positive energy in the school. My advice to students is to heed advice from others but to never be afraid to make your own path.”