May 26, 2009 — It is hardly surprising that Grace Charles, this year’s valedictorian of Stern College for Women, graduate of the S. Daniel Abraham Honors Program and recipient of the Professor Moses L. Isaacs Memorial Award for Excellence in Biochemistry, has a knack for science. Her mother studied medicine at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and her grandfather is a chemical expert on the highly toxic chemical methyl isocyanate, who was sent to Bhopal, India in the 1980’s to investigate a poisonous gas leak.

Charles, who will attend Mount Sinai School of Medicine on Manhattan’s Upper East Side this fall, was active during her four years at Stern. As president of the Chemistry Club, she obtained grants for projects and organized activities including a chemistry magic show and off-campus trips, efforts which won the club an Outstanding Chapter Award from the American Chemical Society.

Having earned an academic scholarship to Stern as an Anne Scheiber Scholar for Excellence in Science, Charles intends to specialize in both clinical dermatology and academic medicine.

“The link between skin health and nutrition has been an interest of mine since I was in middle school,” Charles said. “Throughout my career, I would like to research this relationship.”

For her honors thesis, Charles researched the change in behavior of cholesterol once it has oxidized and presented her findings to the American Chemical Society, the Biophysical Society and the Columbia University Undergraduate Research Symposium.

“The faculty at Stern College helped me develop my critical thinking abilities,” Charles said. “I particularly enjoyed and learned from my research experience with my honors program mentor, Dr. Evan Mintzer [assistant professor of chemistry], with whom I did my research.”

But Grace doesn’t spend all her time working on her 4.0 GPA. She played on Stern’s basketball and soccer teams and played the harp as part of Stern’s Chamber Ensemble. An award-winning writer, Grace is currently writing a book, Get to the Top of the Class: How to Succeed in High School—a topic on which she has proved herself an expert.

Next profile: Yeshiva College graduate Shlomo Eisenberg, third generation YU-er, heads to Harvard Law School