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Erin Richelle: Forging a New Path

Recent recipient of the 3M National Student Fellowship, Erin Richelle, has always loved science—even if that love didn’t manifest as she thought it would. “When I first came to Acadia University, I started in chemistry,” recalls Erin. “I lasted one week before figuring out that it really wasn’t for me.” Having always liked the sciences, from biology to chemistry to health sciences, she decided to switch concentrations to Nutrition, which she found to be a blend of all her favorite parts of the sciences. “I got to learn about human anatomy, biology, disease, and pathogens,” she says. “Still learn about chemistry and how it applies to the food we eat.” 

Once making the switch to Nutrition, Erin embraced her new major wholeheartedly. Outside the classroom, she’s helped edit now-published papers, worked with other researchers in sensory food labs, and completed a co-op placement at a long-term care home. “My co-op placement was really amazing,” says Erin. “The clinical exposure and the hands-on experience were amazing. It showed me that I have options outside of clinical dietetics.” 

Despite all of Erin’s accomplishments in her four years at Acadia, there is one that stands above the rest: working with Dr. Matt Lukeman, an organic chemistry teacher at Acadia, to create a new interdisciplinary Food Chemistry course (CHEM 4733). The course lets students dive into the magic and chemistry of our meals and, thanks to Erin’s work, helps explain science-heavy concepts in accessible ways. “Working on the course was such an amazing experience,” Erin says. “And it was my first experience as a chemistry student that led me to the opportunity, so it was just a great full circle moment.” 

Working on her 3M application was an excellent way to cap off an amazing four years. “It was a very rewarding experience. I found I could articulate my thoughts and feelings all in one place,” recalls Erin. “I learned so much about myself and what I value: as a student, a leader, and an innovator. It was a learning experience in and of itself.” She is incredibly grateful for all the support she received while compiling her application and supported her while she went through her letters line by line. 

Looking forward, she is excited to see where her future leads her. Having learned from early in her undergrad that plans don’t always go the way you intend, she’s happy to leave her doors open. “I’m looking into grad schools and further education, but I’m in no rush. I’d really like to see what opportunities this fellowship brings me, maybe travel. I’m just going to go with the flow and create my own path.”

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