Student-Athlete Left Hawaii for Cosmetic Science and Formulation Design Program

May 9, 2023 | Graduate News, News, UToday, Alumni, Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
By Kirk Baird

As with many college students, the COVID-19 pandemic greatly impacted Ava Perkins’ undergraduate career.

Perkins was a Division I athlete playing water polo at the University of Hawai’i and studying chemistry, and the blunt end to her season in 2020 allowed her to realize her true passion: cosmetic science.

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“Before attending college, I had always been interested in makeup, but I also loved chemistry and pharmacy,” Perkins said. “After a quick Google search, I discovered The University of Toledo’s Cosmetic Science and Formulation Design Program and loved how it perfectly blended all three of my interests.”

Perkins knew that she had to end her 12-year water polo career to move from the West Coast to the Midwest to pursue a career in cosmetic science. And in fall 2021, she transferred into the Professional Division. Perkins said her experience in the Cosmetic Science and Formulation Design Program was all that she could have asked for and more.

“I had the opportunity to get involved in leadership positions fairly early in my first semester including becoming a peer mentor for the PHPR 1000 course, and I quickly realized that I was passionate about making a difference in the lives of other students and for the growth of the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences as a whole.

“In spring 2022, I started the Cosmetic Science and Formulation Design’s first Outreach Team, where I have trained over 30 student members to teach over 1,000 prospective students about the program, how to make cosmetic formulations and demonstrate chemistry activities.”

UToledo student Ava Perkins poses in a research lab.


During her time at UToledo, Perkins has been highly involved in campus activities, including: an ambassador for the Beauty of Science Summer Camp, a college peer mentor, a Pharmacy Student Council member, a participant in the KLAR Leadership Academy, an undergraduate teaching assistant, a member of the college Curriculum Committee, the public relations chair for the UToledo Cosmetic Chemists Society and the social media coordinator for the Cosmetic Science and Formulation Design Program’s social media channels.

“These opportunities allowed me not only to get involved in my community,” she said, “but to give back to a program I am extremely passionate about.”

“Ava is an outstanding, caring and passionate student,” said Dr. Gabriella Baki, director of the Cosmetic Science and Formulation Design Program and an associate professor of pharmacy practice. “She has been actively involved over the years, from outreach events to honors research to leadership opportunities. Her selfless dedication and exemplary work ethic have made a significant impact on the cosmetic science program.”

Perkins was accepted into graduate school at the University of Cincinnati, where she plans to obtain her Ph.D. in pharmaceutical sciences with a focus in biomembrane sciences starting in fall.

“After becoming very involved at The University of Toledo and working closely with my faculty advisor, Dr. Gabriella Baki, it is my dream to become a professor — hopefully at UToledo — and teach cosmetic science to the next generation of young, brilliant scientists.”

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