Mitchell Allen ’20 is in his third year on the Middlebury men’s hockey team. A molecular biology and biochemistry major from Clifton Park, New York, Allen spent the summer of 2018 working at the Neural Stem Cell Institute in Rensselaer, New York.
How did you become interested in stem cells?
My interest began after I took a stem cell biology J-term class last year with visiting professor Julie Merkle from Princeton. Professor Merkle introduced me to the incredible potential of stem cell biology and once my interest was sparked, Hannah Benz in the Center for Careers and Internships (CCI) helped put me in touch with people at the Neural Stem Cell Institute. I was amazed by how much we have learned about the differentiation of cells and the foundations of biological process.
What kind of work did you do during your internship?
I spent most of my time measuring lesion sizes of injured rat spinal cords using a microscope equipped with a stereo investigator program. The program was able to then make a three-dimensional model of that spinal cord to determine the efficacy of the treatment. I also learned how to run Maxiprep kits, which are instruments and tools used to isolate plasmid deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) from bacteria.
What drew you to Middlebury?
Middlebury has always been a notable school due to their immense success on the ice for hockey. The determining factors of the phenomenal academics, the beautiful facilities in which our teams compete, including Chip Kenyon ’85 Arena, the amazing support of the Middlebury community, and the tradition that both of the hockey teams have here all made becoming a Panther was a no brainer for me.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Away from the rink, I love to get outdoors and I am an avid hiker. I spend a lot of my time in the summer in the High Peak Wilderness of the Adirondack Mountains. I have completed 22 of the 46 high peaks and hope to be a “46er” within the next couple years. I hiked one with my best friend a few years ago and from that point on made it a goal to do them all. It’s a great way to express my competitiveness in a more laid-back manner and is very accessible from where I live. During the summer of 2018, my friend and I completed a 22-mile loop in one day, knocking out three peaks including Mt. Marcy, the tallest point in New York State at 5,344 feet.
When did hockey become a part of your life?
I learned to skate when I was three years old and played on my first team by age four. Since then, hockey has been both a part of my identity and something that has opened up all sorts of positive opportunities. Playing college hockey had been a dream of mine since the time I was old enough to understand what college hockey was, and being able to put the Panther jersey on has been a dream come true.
What are your plans after graduation?
I am not exactly sure of my path yet, but I know I would ideally like to pursue a career in health care in some capacity. My mother was an Emergency Room nurse when I was younger and now works as a sexual assault nurse examiner. Having been surrounded with medical-minded people most of my life, I can truly see myself going down that avenue in some capacity.
What is your #MiddMoment?
My #MiddMoment would be scoring two goals in the third period to take down third-ranked Oswego State in the championship game of the 2017 Middlebury Holiday Classic.
Note - The inserted photo above to the left shows Mitchell working at the Neural Stem Cell Institute in the summer of 2018.