Student Star: Taylor Budine

FSU student combines passion for helping others with environmental health

Name: Taylor Budine
Major: Environmental Science & Biology
Graduation: Spring 2018

“Florida State's campus life is vibrant and dynamic and provides so many opportunities for engagement and service.”

Senior Taylor Budine has had a fulfilling academic journey. From her research with complex chemical compounds to her volunteer work with Dance Marathon and the Special Olympics, the environmental science and biology double major has left behind a great legacy at Florida State University.

A native of Coral Springs, Florida, Budine was attracted to Florida State’s reputation as a preeminent research institution and looked forward to gaining hands-on experience with state-of-the-art research facilities and faculty.

“I primarily chose to attend FSU because of the welcoming environment, emphasis on research and academic excellence on campus,” Budine said. “What also really stuck out to me is how the tour guides emphasized how great I could be rather than how great the university is.”

Budine’s decision to major in biology and environmental science was driven by the loss of her grandfather to cancer believed to be partially caused by environmental pollutants. His death led her to develop a deep interest in how the environment influences human health and well-being.

“I have always been an environmentally conscious person and my original intended career path was focused on environmental sustainability,” Budine said. “Taking a few general biology and genetics classes and getting involved in research really solidified my career path around my interests in biology and the environment.”

She relentlessly pursued research, conducting studies in molecular biology to better understand how the environment influences health and causes the proliferation of certain diseases. She worked under Associate Professor of Biological Science Jonathan Dennis studying how DNA molecules are packaged in the nucleus of cells.

“In Dr. Dennis’ lab, we study how DNA is packaged within the nucleus by chromatin structures,” Budine said. “This research is intriguing to me, and I owe everything to Dr. Dennis for giving me the chance to explore my research interests.”

Budine is currently working with Bisphenol-A, a chemical compound found in many plastics, to test how it affects chromatin structure and ultimately gene expression. This compound can lead to diseases, such as breast and prostate cancer and infertility by disrupting the endocrine system.

She received a $1,000 IDEA Grant to conduct further research with Bisphenol-A and presented her work at the 2017 President’s Showcase for Undergraduate Research Excellence. She is currently expanding on this work for her honors thesis.

In addition to her rigorous coursework and research in molecular biology, Budine has still found time to give back, volunteering hundreds of hours to community service and leadership positions on campus. She has participated on Dance Marathon at FSU for the past two years, served on the executive board in the Tri-beta Biological Honors Society, and she also works with the Special Olympics Tallahassee and Big Bend Homeless Shelter.

“Florida State’s campus life is vibrant and dynamic and provides so many opportunities for engagement and service,” Budine said.

Budine is grateful to have been involved in campus life at Florida State while still making dean’s list every semester.

“Community service work relaxes me and allows me to connect with my community in a unique way,” Budine said. “Volunteering your time to others is critical because it connects you to your surroundings and teaches you the valuable life skill of putting others first.”

After graduation, Budine plans to continue her research in epigenetics and molecular biology while pursuing a doctoral degree. Her long-term career goal is to be a tenured professor.

“The experiences I have had at FSU have completely shifted my passions and career path,” Budine said. “This university has been a great place to grow and mature into a professional member of society. I would never exchange the friends I have made, the successes and hardships I have had and my overall experience at FSU.”

By Brooks Lockett, University Communications Intern
Produced by the offices of Information Technology Services, the Provost, Student Affairs, Undergraduate Studies and University Communications.