Meet Elke Feese
Elke Feese received one of the first-place awards in the 2008 Graduate Research Symposium for her work on “Exploring New Treatment Options for Tuberculosis: Photodynamic Therapy of Mycobacterium Smegmatis.” She came to NC State after attending Free University Berlin (http://www.fu-berlin.de/en/) and is now working towards a Ph.D. in Chemistry. However, love -- more than science -- was the deciding factor in her decision to come to the U.S. Although they met for the first time while she was an au pair in New Jersey, she and her husband started dating while he was stationed in Germany with the military, and they married when he was transferred back to the U.S. He was first stationed in Georgia, but was later transferred to Fort Bragg, which is within reach of three major universities. Their home in Sanford, NC is a way to compromise on their commutes. While her husband was deployed, however, Feese rented a small apartment in Raleigh that she still uses occasionally to concentrate on research.
Feese credits her interest in chemistry to her father. “[He] is a chemist too and I guess he sparked the interest because he could answer my questions and explain things to me that were more advanced than what I was learning in school.” She gives additional credit to an excellent teacher in high school. Feese describes the educational systems in the U.S. and Germany as being quite different with “the German undergraduate degree as a kind of hybrid between the U.S. Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees.” As a result, she already had the experience of having an advisor, group members, and working towards a thesis -- and knew what she was looking for at NC State.
Her current project is working in a bioinorganic group, but she describes herself as “working between a whole bunch of fields.” Feese found this is a “perfect choice” because she wanted to work with spectroscopy and did not want to do purely organic research. Her research for this project is on PDT (photo-dynamic therapy). This involves feeding a colored compound to bacteria and then shining a light on them, which kills the bacteria. The bacteria used in the research are not actually tuberculosis because of the biohazard, but it behaves in a similar manner.
In Feese’s case, creating the poster for the Graduate Research Symposium did not create any extra work. All second-year graduate students in the chemistry program are required to prepare a poster for visitation weekend for the newly admitted graduate students. Currently, her poster is on display on the fifth floor of Dabney Hall.
Feese admits to not having much spare time outside the lab, but this is partially because of her choice to try to complete her program in four years. She and her husband also own a house that they have been renovating for the past two years, so. . . . “all our free time is spent painting, tiling floors, and fixing kitchen cabinets.” However, they also own a motorcycle and enjoy running, cycling, and other activities. In Germany, she participated in rhythmic gymnastics which is not as popular in the U.S. Feese is looking forward to having more time to pursue her interests in two to three years. Although she is hoping to work in industry, she is still exploring her options after she receives her PhD.