Double major: from translating stories to studying malaria

April 07, 2008

Biology and Spanish major Kristen Warfield ’08 has just finished translating a book from Spanish to English. “Far Far Away,” by Assistant Professor of Foreign Languages Uriel Quesada, is comprised of stories about those who are living far away from the people and places they love.

“Dr. Quesada has a beautiful, poetic writing style,” says Warfield. “The biggest problem I have encountered is maintaining his eloquence while translating his work into English.”

For his part, Quesada understands the difficulties that arise in translation.

“Translating literature, poems and short stories is a very personal experience,” he says. “You have to work not only at the linguistic level but also at the cultural level. So you have to not only understand the text but also the culture.”

Spanish is not Warfield’s only love. As the first recipient of the Mayetta Hawkins Boyer Student-Faculty Research fund, she developed over the summer a tool to study malaria using cockroaches and beetles.

“The fund was a wonderful incentive,” says Warfield, who worked with faculty mentor Biology Professor Ralene Mitschler. “It encourages students to stay at McDaniel to get practice in research without having to apply to programs that are farther away.”

Warfield isolated molecules that thrive inside parasites living in the intestines of beetles and cockroaches. Then, she and Mitschler applied a series of chemical solutions that identified whether the molecules are the same as those that cause malaria in other animals.

“She found out how much time it takes to do research,” says Mitschler. “She has a whole new perspective and appreciation of how disease is caused.”

Warfield views her dual loves of Biology and Spanish as interconnected, and tied to her future.

“My love for biology has always stemmed from my passion for helping people,” she says. “In the future, I can see these two interests coinciding in whatever I decide to do, as being bilingual today is such an asset. Overall, the strongest connection I see between them both is that through their application I can often achieve my greater interest, helping people.”

After graduation, Warfield will teach at an orphanage in Honduras. She ultimately plans to become a physician’s assistant or get her master’s degree in public health.