Serratore grew up in the northern Minnesota town of Grand Rapids. After studying chemistry and dance at Gustavus Adophus College, she took a year off to dance at Disney World before applying to graduate schools in the Midwest. Both her undergraduate research advisor and biochemistry advisor suggested Purdue. “I liked the small program, supportive environment, and faculty involvement,” she says. “The prestige of Purdue’s name was an added benefit.”
As an undergraduate, Serratore had tutored students in chemistry and was a TA for a chemistry lab and for dance classes. Teaching at Purdue, however, was a financial necessity. She has assisted in several courses in biochemistry, biology, and the IU Medical School curriculum offered on Purdue’s main campus. “Once I started teaching, I learned that I enjoy it,” she says. “I realized that students are paying to have really good mentors. They didn’t choose me, but they deserve a strong education, and I wanted to do right by them.”
She also wanted to “light a fire of excitement about science” in the same way that others did for her. With guidance from her advisor, Associate Professor Scott Briggs, Serratore is an epigenetics researcher who studies how yeast develops resistance to anti-fungal drugs.
Last year Serratore won her departmental award for her teaching efforts — meaningful, she says, because the faculty members who nominated her were the ones who most inspired her.
After defending in August, Nina is planning to become a teaching instructor for this fall. “That will help me figure out if this is my ultimate career path” she says.