Lawrence University senior Charlie Bunch works in a science lab.
Research in science labs at Lawrence University has prepared senior Charlie Bunch for a master's program in France. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

After a full and exciting four years at Lawrence University, biochemistry major Charlie Bunch is headed to International Space University in Strasbourg, France. She will pursue a master’s program in space science and exploration.

Bunch, of Ann Arbor, Michigan, has always been interested in the prospect of extraterrestrial life. During her undergraduate studies, she has been studying microscopic species. These organisms thrive in steam vents and high-pressure systems that can be similar to the harsh conditions on other planets.

“We like to use small organisms that live in extreme environments to study what life could look like on other planets,” Bunch said. “If we’re going to find life, it’s most likely going to be unicellular.”

Bunch is excited for her next steps—progress in her academic career and the decision to spend the next two years living and studying in France.

“I wanted to make it an adventure,” she said. “I wanted to do something a little more out there.”

Combine disciplined analysis and hands-on experimentation to build a foundation in understanding the biological processes.

Bunch is also graduating from Lawrence with a minor in art history, and she challenges the idea that her studies in art and astronomy are far removed from each other. She believes popular culture and representations of space exploration are essential for scientists to consider.

“A lot of people’s first experience with space is through art,” Bunch said. “Movies, superhero comics, even music videos with people as aliens—I think if we look to art, we can understand what people want from space. Artists have pushed this wonderful idea of space, and now we have to go explore and see if it really is that cool.”

Bunch isn’t sure where her career will take her yet, but the possibilities are vast.

“I’d love to go to space; I’d love to be an astronaut,” she said. “Mostly I’m excited to be around other people who are asking the same questions as me and asking questions related to those questions.”