One-of-a-Kind Program Drew New Yorker to UToledo

November 17, 2023 | News, Student Success, UToday, Alumni, Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
By Anna Spaulding

Growing up, I thought my passion for cosmetics and my interest in science would always be independent of each other. Back then I would’ve never imagined myself moving nine hours away from home in order to see those two worlds collide. However, I can confidently say it was the best decision I’ve ever made.

For me, as an out-of-state student, the Honors Community was an unexpected safe space and it made the transition into college so much easier. The presence of Honors helped me transform my academic motivation and passion within the field of cosmetic science. The conversation about the Honors thesis led me to work with the Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) to find my advisor and research topic.

Photo of UToledo student Anna Spaulding in a research lab.

Anna Spaulding is a junior honors student in the Cosmetic Science and Formulation Design Program.

I’m so grateful that Dr. Gabriella Baki [director of the Cosmetic Science and Formulation Design Program and an associate professor of pharmacy practice], was able to mentor me and polish my research ideas. My sustainability minor sparked so many questions about life cycle analysis and the environmental impact of the cosmetic industry. I knew I wanted to learn more about sustainability within the cosmetic industry, but Dr. Baki helped me form a question that I could try to answer. Then, last spring, I applied to the Summer Research and Creative Activities Program (USR-CAP) through OUR.

Over the summer, I worked on my research, “Moisturizers and Lipsticks: Are Sustainable Ingredients Effective Alternatives to Synthetic Ingredients?” which was the first time I’ve ever worked independently in a lab. Doing research over the summer gave me the time and space to learn at my own pace. I was learning a lot of techniques and theories for the first time, which could be overwhelming but the guidance from Dr. Baki created a positive learning atmosphere.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from this experience was the notion of delayed gratification.

When some data was first collected at the beginning, it was hard to see the bigger picture and significance. But over time, as I learned more technical knowledge, the purpose of the project felt more profound. Sustainability in the cosmetic industry is continuously evolving and the challenges I faced during my research helped me understand why it needs to evolve. At the end of the USR-CAP, I presented to people outside of my field, which showed me the importance of effective communication using technical and nontechnical language.

Headshot of UToledo student Anna Spaulding.


Recently, I presented my research to industry professionals at the New York Society of Cosmetic Chemists Culinary Event. I was extremely nervous to talk about my research to professionals; however, I’ve never felt so welcomed. Being the youngest in the room is scary but the genuine interest from the people at the event eased my nerves. All the people I met at the culinary event gave me great advice and encouraged me to explore the field as much as I can.

When I look back at my journey the past two years, my experience has taught me that it’s so important to ask questions and listen to mentor figures. Asking questions and talking with the people around you show that you care and are committed. The resources from the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and the Jesup Scott Honors College have given me a one-of-a-kind education that has prepared me for the professional world.

My biggest advice to anyone interested in research or cosmetic science is to start early and reach out to the people around you. The people I’ve met through the UToledo Cosmetic Chemist Society and through the Society of Cosmetic Chemists have guided me and answered any questions I had.

The network I’ve made has truly changed my experience at UToledo.

Anna Spaulding is a junior in the Cosmetic Science and Formulation Design Program from Copenhagen, New York.

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