Tori Leal, a third-year chemistry student and Clyde, Ohio native, recently transferred to University of Findlay at the beginning of the 2020-21 school year. Through her experience at Findlay, she has been placed in an exceptional internship position at a Bunge North America location in Bellevue, Ohio.
“Bunge North America is an agribusiness and food ingredient company dedicated to improving the global food supply chain,” according to the company’s website. Leal describes Bunge as a soybean plant that takes in soybeans from farmers and puts the product through an intensive process of extraction and refining to make derivatives out of them, such as soybean oil and soybean meal. At Bunge’s location in Bellevue, Leal holds the position of Quality Assurance Intern. Leal works in the lab at Bunge testing different soybean oils and powders, including a quality assurance check making sure it’s okay to send these products out to other companies to use. The derivatives are used in several different human food items such as granola bars, pizza, and salad oils. Along with human food, some of these soybean derivatives are used in animal foods.
Leal, who was initially enrolled at another university majoring in biochemistry, ultimately decided that the biology aspect of the program was not for her, which led her to look into Findlay’s Chemistry Program.
When visiting Findlay, before making the decision to transfer, she noticed the small class sizes and the one-on-one attention professors were able to give students. Leal mentioned that she also really enjoyed meeting with some of the Chemistry faculty while visiting. Nathan Tice, Ph.D., assistant professor of chemistry, especially made a positive influence on Leal’s decision to transfer to UF. “You can tell that Dr. Tice cares for his students and really wants them to succeed. He always makes sure that students are on the right path, asks if we need help, and is always there for us,” said Leal.
One characteristic of UF’s Chemistry Program that drew Leal to Findlay was its commitment to experiential learning. In fact, beginning on her first day at UF she became involved in laboratory research. Throughout the fall 2020 semester, Leal and other students were engaged in researching fluorinated heterocycles, which, according Leal, are utilized in cancer drugs.
Leal is expected to graduate in May 2022 with not only her bachelor’s degree in chemistry, but also her master of business administration. Following graduation, her hope is to continue on to a graduate school program for medicinal research; with hopes of working in a research lab developing drugs for different diseases.