Coming to Virginia Tech was an easy decision for Tobin Weiseman, a Blacksburg native.
Figuring out what he wanted to study wasn’t as simple.
Weiseman spent his freshman year studying business before having a realization: He wanted to study science. He quickly found a home in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, where he picked up his primary major, human nutrition, foods, and exercise (HNFE).
Weiseman said he decided on the major for its comprehensiveness, which allowed him to narrow his interest in the broad discipline of science.
“I did human nutrition, foods, and exercise because it had everything: biology, chemistry, nutrition, exercise science — there's a lot of area to move once you get past organic chemistry. You can specialize,” Weiseman said.
After a hands-on experience during his sophomore year working as a lab assistant for Timothy Long, director of the Macromolecules & Interfaces Institute and a professor in chemistry, Weiseman added a second degree in nanoscience, part of the College of Science’s Academy of Integrated Science.
Now a fifth year senior, Weiseman will graduate in December with his human nutrition, foods, and exercise degree and in May 2017 with his nanoscience degree.
Weiseman said what he finds most important in his undergraduate career is the relationships he has built, especially with professors who have been supportive of him.
"My favorite part about HNFE is just that they are the best people,” he said. "It's a special collection of people. If feel like they are the wind at my back, which is very cool."
Despite potential scheduling conflicts between the classes required for the two majors, Weiseman said his professors and advisors made sure he could complete both degree requirements.
"Everyone in the nanoscience program has just bent over backwards to help me," he said.
This past summer, Weiseman began an internship that turned into a part-time job with BioTherapeutics, a local biotechnology company focused on plant-based immunology. Weiseman worked on product development, helped design presentations, and wrote a “Generally Recognized As Safe” Food and Drug Administration grant for the main active ingredient in a nutritional beverage the company developed. The grant was recently approved for commercialization.
Weiseman also serves as a board member for the Virginia Tech chapter of the International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering (ISPE), where he is responsible for outreach and networking. Currently, Weiseman is helping ISPE plan a biotechnology job fair, which would be the first of its kind at Virginia Tech.
Outside of academia, Weiseman also enjoys creative pursuits. He has an eye for photography and graphic design and is a guitarist in a band he formed with friends called North of the New, which performed at Virginia Tech’s Relay for Life in 2014 and 2015.
Weiseman says his most influential extracurricular, however, is through his leadership with Young Life Capernaum Ministries. Through the Capernaum program, Weiseman meets every other week and attends camps with teenagers and young adults with disabilities.
"What really changed me was when I led my first camp trip after sophomore year. I've been taught by my guys way more than I'll ever teach them," Weiseman said.
Weiseman credits Young Life and his spirituality for being a driving force behind the work he does in the lab. He said for him, the work he hopes to do with nanoscience drug delivery stems from wanting to care for other people.
“The reason I care about people is because we're designed to love each other, because the only thing that matters is relationships,” he said. "That's where my purpose comes from.”
To that end, Weiseman is applying for graduate school in order to pursue a career in pharmaceutical development and help develop better drugs by improving the accuracy of their delivery.
He finds out next year what the future holds, but until then, Weiseman maintains his focus on a simple philosophy.
"I don't know if I'm ever going to publish something that's going to change the world,” Weiseman said. “But if I can work with somebody that, somewhere down the road, does something, even like 50 years after I'm gone, that's worth it."
Written by Erica Corder