Katie Sawvell always wanted to be a pharmacist, just like her mother. But after several research projects during her freshman year at NKU, her interests changed. She’s since studied neurobiology, microbiology, psychopharmacology, molecular engineering and organic chemistry.

The biology student with minors in neuroscience and chemistry is taking her curiosity to France this summer through NKU’s STEM-International Research and Scholarly Exchange Program (STEM-IRSEP). Previously, the program—maintained by Dr. Isabelle Lagadic, an associate professor of chemistry—sent students abroad for summer internships, but Katie will be the first student to complete a semester abroad on top of the internship. Back home, the program hosts students from various countries for 8-12 weeks. Katie has worked with STEM-IRSEP her entire college career.

“I started really early since I knew I wanted to do research,” she says. “It’s really helped me figure out what I want to do postgraduation.”

It’s been a busy three years, but Katie now knows where she’s headed. She’s currently working on a neuroscience project that studies the effects of antipsychotics on childhood development. She has more questions than answers, but that’s what Katie loves about her field.

“That’s what science is all about. You have a problem, and then you dig into it and try to figure it out and solve it,” she says.