Class of 1998
By Sarah Okubo
Matthew Geballe is a computational chemist at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Computational chemistry combines two areas of learning that Matthew enjoys: computers and science. Matthew’s teachers, Mr. Jay Chow in A.P. Calculus and Mr. Mark Kloetzel in A.P. Chemistry, ignited his interests in chemistry and mathematics, both important in being a computational chemist. His courses in chemistry, biology, and mathematics at Waiakea High School helped prepare him for his future profession.
At Pacific Lutheran University, Matthew majored in Mathematics and Chemistry. During the summer before his senior year of undergraduate studies, he participated in a computational chemistry summer research project with a chemistry professor at PLU. This was his first exposure to the field, and he found himself enjoying the combination of chemistry and computers.
After some consideration, Mathew decided to attend graduate school at Emory University. There he joined a lab in the Chemistry department that strongly believed in the partnership between synthetic chemists, computational chemists, and biologists. His work in graduate school focused on the protein tubulin, which is important to anti-cancer drugs, and the NMDA receptor. The NMDA receptor is a large complex of proteins that is involved with strokes, epilepsy, and many other neurodegenerative conditions.
As a computational chemist, Matthew uses computers to model the interactions of chemicals and their processes. His job focuses mainly on issues relating to pharmacology and pharmaceutics, understanding how specific proteins perform certain functions within the body, how drugs or other small molecules interact and affect these proteins, and how we can modify drugs to make them better and safer. To do this, Matthew uses computer programs to form predictions and models useable to other scientists for directing or interpreting their experiments.
Working with computers and discovering the ways the body works make being a computational chemist enjoyable and exciting for Matthew. He finds satisfaction in knowing that the work he does is all in the attempt of creating a positive change for others.
Matthew left Waiakea High School in 1998 with many fond memories. He remembers that it was a large school, and yet it seemed as though the majority of people knew each other. He also remembers the many excellent teachers he had. During his time at Waiakea High School he participated in a range of extracurricular activities such as Math League, Academic Decathlon, and even male cheerleading. He was the class valedictorian.