The Scarlet & Black

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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Ed Lopatto

Photo contributed by Ed Lopatto

For microbiologist and tennis player Ed Lopatto ’20, the Grinnell community has been something more than just the place he grew up. Being a townsperson at Grinnell College can be difficult — it is often hard to separate one’s collegiate identity from their relationship with home. But Lopatto didn’t have this difficulty — he was able to cultivate new interests and passions to which would not have been introduced if he had not gone to school a block away from his childhood home.

For example, Lopatto came into college thinking he would be a math major, but his passion for biology bloomed after taking Biology 150 with Professor Shannon Hinsa. “I remember plating a sample of soil for the first time and being amazed by seeing the diverse colors and shapes of bacterial colonies. I was hooked on biology ever since,” he wrote in an email to The S&B.

Lopatto became a full-fledged collegiate biologist. He was a member of the Biology Student Educational Policy Committee, completed numerous — and prestigious — research experiences, published a scientific paper with Professor Hinsa and even studied biology while abroad in Tanzania.

“I had a MAP where I spent a summer at Iowa State University in Dr. Adina Howe’s lab where I learned about bioinformatics and genomics. I also spent a summer in Seattle in Dr. Matt Parsek’s lab studying Pseudomonas biofilms. Both were very great and formative experiences that were only possible through Grinnell College’s generous support,” wrote Lopatto.

In addition to his academics, Lopatto competed as a member of the men’s tennis team. Tennis introduced Lopatto to Grinnellians he knows will be lifelong friends.

“[I] have many memories. For instance, I will always remember one of my first tennis practices where I accidentally pegged Arlo Detmer ’20 in the face with a tennis ball and gave him a bloody nose,” he wrote. “It was the first time I met him and probably wasn’t the best way to introduce myself. Thankfully, now I’m happy to call him my good friend.”

This fall, Lopatto will begin a PhD program in microbiology at the University of Washington in St. Louis in the hopes of becoming a professor. Not only will studying at a new school be an adjustment for Lopatto, but, for the first time, he will not be close to home.

“I will miss everything about Grinnell, especially my peers and the faculty. Grinnell College has been a part of my entire life from participating in Coach Jaworkski’s sports camp as a kid to somehow managing to pass the College’s degree requirements,” he wrote. “It will be weird living further than a block away from campus.”

Despite the distance, Lopatto knows that he will always have a connection to the Grinnell community. If nothing else, he will be sure to return home to visit his basset hound, Josie.

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