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Katerina Hilleke ’13


WHEN SHE’S NOT MAKING MOLECULES, CHEMISTRY major Katerina Hilleke ’13 can be found dancing, playing gamelan music or sipping tea. Tese activities help her refuel and creatively face cognitive chal-


lenges such as synthesizing potential new antibiotics based upon the chemical structure of their natural counterparts. “I’m continually astounded by what chemistry can do. Tere are


reactions so endothermic they will freeze a beaker to a stool, or you can mix two solids and get a liquid. It’s magical,” Hilleke says. Te 2012–2013 Astronaut Scholar is particularly fascinated with


synthesis and discovering how to “assemble a particular chemical structure in a clever way.” In fact, Hilleke spent 18 months explor- ing ways to synthesize beilschmiedic acid C, a natural antibacterial product found in the bark of the Beilschmiedia anacardioides tree species in Cameroon. Although she has yet to achieve her goal, she hopes to be the first chemist to make the beilschmiedic acid C compound, which may lead to enhanced antibiotics. Hilleke helps others better understand chemistry by serving as a


facilitator with the Academic Excellence Program and as a tutor for students in the Group Teory, Quantum Chemistry and Spec- troscopy course. She also has helped organize Science Day for the Science Bus program. A member of the Claremont Colleges Ballroom Dance


Company, Hilleke has been dancing since age 5. She trained first in ballet, rising through the ranks of a local ballet company and performing as a company member during high school. At HMC, she opted for a


My balance tips: Know when to stop and take a deep breath. Don’t do schoolwork after dinner on Fridays.


humanities concentration in dance. Tat decision opened up new opportunities she might not have otherwise experienced. A Pre-Columbian Dance class led to a performance with


the Aztec dance group Los Danzantes Del Sol, and a course covering the music and dance of Bali has introduced her to gamelan—a traditional orchestra from the islands of Java and Bali, Indonesia—and the chance to perform gamelan music and Balinese dance. More than just an extracurricular experience, dance is her


joy and her secret to a balanced life. “My dance classes are important for my mental health,” she says. “Tey require a different kind of concentration, and I have found that my stress levels go down after dance class.”


I’m continually astounded by what chemistry can do. There





are reactions so endothermic they will freeze a beaker to a stool, or you can mix two solids and get a liquid.


It’s magical. ”


FALL/WINTER 2012 Har vey Mudd College 17


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