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The People's Chemist

News Story

Science enthusiast Julia Fatum ’20 has been experimenting with honey and other natural substances to create an antibacterial remedy. She’s also raising money to go to Panama to bring life-saving medical care to people in need.

Julia Fatum ’20 is all about science. She’s the vice president of the Chemistry Club, head science tutor at the Learning Center, and has conducted research with two professors—all leadership positions that have cultivated her relationship with both professors and her fellow students in the Science Department here at Pace.

Originally, she came to the NYC Campus with an eye on the forensic program, but it was the supportive environment she encountered here that really convinced her to put down roots. “I had peer leaders and tutors who mentored me. They helped me through my classes and were always there for anything I needed. I am grateful that I now get to do the same for others,” Fatum told us.

Fatum has always known she would be heading to medical school someday. “The human body is an extraordinary thing that we will never fully understand,” she enthused. “There will always be things to learn and medicine will never cease to advance.” Beyond her interest and skill in science, Fatum was also drawn to the medical field because it meant she would be helping people. “I have experienced a lot of trauma in my life, but I have always had people there to pick me up and help me through it. I want nothing more than to be that person for someone else. The best doctors are those that can comfort their patients and connect with them,” she said.

Professor of Chemistry and Physical Sciences, JaimeLee Rizzo, PhD, was one of Fatum’s many mentors who worked hard to connect with the students in her class. At first, however, Fatum was terrified to sign up for her two-semester organic chemistry course. “[It’s] feared by most science majors because it tends to be a ‘weed-out’ class. I was terrified to go, but when I was done, I was just sad that it was over,” she explained.

She did so well that Professor Rizzo invited Fatum to work on a research project with her—one that’s received quite a bit of attention. They’re experimenting with Manuka honey, aloe vera gel, and essential oils to create a natural and effective antibacterial remedy. “It was very interesting learning that these surfaces could be used for things such as enhancing wound healing and helping diabetes patients,” Fatum said.

It hasn’t been all smooth sailing, however. “When I began my research, the first problem I came across was that the honey would not mix with the essential oils,” she explained. “I had to consult the internet for a substance that would make the layer homogeneous, and that turned out to be aloe vera gel.” Fatum will be presenting her research along with Professor Rizzo at the American Chemical Society (ACS) in Orlando, Florida, this month.

If that wasn’t enough, Fatum is also currently raising money for a trip to Panama with Global Brigades. She wants to bring necessary medical care to underdeveloped communities who desperately need it, but also, to raise awareness about this very real issue. “Although it is extremely difficult to come up with the money to attend, I will do everything I can to raise the money for my part because their lives matter. I want to make sure they know there are people that care. I know that these trips greatly improve the quality of life and can help save someone’s life. I want nothing more than to be a part of this.” We’re so proud of everything she’s accomplished!

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