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Matt Naticchia '14

Delaware, Ohio
Major: Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

Not many undergraduates can claim to be the lead author of an article in a scholarly science journal, but Matt Naticchia achieved that distinction earlier this semester when a paper about protein cross-linkers was published in Chemical Research in Toxicology.

A junior biochemistry and molecular biology major at The College of Wooster, Naticchia worked on the project with James West, assistant professor of biology, and several other students last summer.

"I spent about 9 or 10 weeks conducting research on campus," said Naticchia, a graduate of Delaware Hayes High School in Delaware, Ohio. "When I first started, I had no clue, but I learned so much from Dr. West about different techniques and different protein interactions. The lab experience was a very good complement to what we had learned in class."

Naticchia never dreamed that he would play such a prominent role in a published paper so early in his career as a young scientist, but he knew that Wooster could provide a pathway to a future in research.

"I wanted to go to a research-oriented school with a strong science program, and I really liked what Wooster had to offer," he said. "After visiting the campus, it became my first choice."

Naticchia wasted no time becoming involved in research opportunities. In fact, he got a head start through the SEER (Summer Early Engaged Research) program, which enabled him to work with several Wooster faculty in the chemistry department during the summer prior to his first year on campus.

Outside of the lab and the classroom, Naticchia has been able to find time for another one of his passions — soccer. A center/defender, he is a three-year letter winner with the Scots, and he earned all-conference honors as a junior. He also is actively involved in community service as a member of a program house that volunteers several hours each week at West View Manor, a nearby nursing home. In addition, he has become involved in PUSH (People United for Sports and Health), which promotes sports for people with disabilities, including wheelchair soccer and sitting volleyball.

But Naticchia's primary focus is science and research, and as he prepares for his senior year, he has no doubt that he made the right decision about his education.

"My Wooster experience has been great," he said. "The faculty have been very approachable and extremely helpful. The College definitely gives people an opportunity to get involved in a lot of different things. To not take advantage of those opportunities would have been a huge mistake. I'm really glad I made the decision to come here."