Biology and Bollywood
Pre-med student taps into religion minor for holistic approach to medicine
Monday, March 2, 2020
Natasha Muppala sits on the Trinity acequia

Before deciding where to attend college, Natasha Muppala ’20 did her research. Contemplating a pre-med track but sure that she wanted to be in the health care field, she applied to several Texas schools with strong chemistry and biology departments. After that, she went with her gut.

“I came to Trinity and went on a tour—and I immediately loved it,” Muppala remembers. “I liked the small campus and the small class sizes.”

Once on campus, Muppala chose to major in biochemistry and molecular biology to give her a solid foundation for medical school. “Each class is unique and geared towards a certain aspect of the medical field,” she says. “It's not just your basic Biology I or Biology II. I've taken classes as specific as Genes and Phenotype in Evolution’ and ‘Cells and Cell Systems.’" 

Natasha Muppala

 

Muppala also praises the faculty attention in these courses: “Professors don’t just move students through a textbook. Most of the time they compile different resources, which I feel is more apt for the real world.”

She even researched alongside one of her chemistry professors, Joseph Lambert, studying the chemistry and analysis of amber fossils. “Ambers form from plant resin, and the chemistry of amber from different parts of the world varies. We characterized amber samples through what’s called ‘NMR spectroscopy’” she explains. Muppala presented her project, “Chemical Characterization of Amber and Plant Exudates,” at the 2019 summer undergraduate research symposium—an event she cites as the highlight of her Trinity experience.

To complete other requirements, Muppala picked up an Asian religions course. She found it fascinating and, after taking several more religion classes, declared religion as a minor. “The more classes I took, the more I was able to relate what I was learning to my interest in medicine,” she says. “People have a different way of coping with their illnesses, and their spirituality and religion is a big part of how people deal with the stress of being sick and how they heal. So the connection I've made between my major and my religion minor was unexpected but very valuable.”

Natasha Muppala dancing for Diwali performance

Outside of academics, Muppala sought out ways to express her cultural identity—she was born in Dallas but lived in Saudi Arabia for almost a decade growing up. She helped put together cultural events such as Diwali and Holi as past president of the South Asian Student Association. Now, she is captain of the Top Naach Bollywood dance team and a member of Loon-E Crew, Trinity’s hip-hop dance team. For the past four years, she has also participated in TigerThon, an organization that raises funds for the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio through Children’s Miracle Network because, she says, “it combines two of [her] top passions in life–healthcare and dance.”

When Muppala’s younger sister Meghan saw all the opportunities Trinity offered, she was inspired to apply, too. Now a sophomore, Meghan is also on the pre-med track. But next year Meghan will be on her own as Muppala moves to Phoenix where she’ll begin medical school at the A.T. Still University School of Osteopathic Medicine, aspiring toward a career in pediatrics. She chose the university because she likes the concept of “whole person healthcare,” which takes an integrated approach that includes the body, mind, and spirit of each patient. And it looks like her religion minor is the perfect complement to this approach. 

Margaret Miller helped tell Trinity's story as a member of the University communications team.

You might be interested in