Helping People Lead Healthier Lives: Winnie Wong

Using an approach from pharmaceutical chemistry, UC Davis chemists are screening for compounds that boost fuel production by microscopic green algae.
Using an approach from pharmaceutical chemistry, UC Davis chemists are screening for compounds that boost fuel production by microscopic green algae.

Winnie Wong, B.S., Pharmaceutical Chemistry, '15

Winnie Wong was born in Hong Kong and moved to Elk Grove, a Sacramento suburb, when she was two years old. She is the first in her family to graduate from college. Her mother is a homemaker, and her father is a business owner involved in manufacturing and trading in China.

After attending community college, Winnie earned a B.S. in pharmaceutical chemistry from UC Davis in 2015. Winnie is currently in the doctor of pharmacy program at the California Northstate University College of Pharmacy in Elk Grove.

Winnie Wong
Winnie Wong

What should potential chemistry majors know?

Majoring in chemistry is definitely challenging, but it's also exciting at the same time. The classes take a lot of dedication, sacrifice and hard work, but it will be highly rewarding in the end to know you have accomplished something this challenging. Finally, it's a growing field and there are many opportunities for people who are really passionate and interested.

What was the most surprising thing you learned in your classes?

There are a lot of different fields of chemistry I didn't know about before I started at UC Davis. I always thought chemistry was just remembering how to balance equations, but chemistry is so much more than that. As a pharmaceutical chemistry major, you are exposed to various levels of knowledge of chemistry, such as pharmaceutical drug designs. I also didn’t realize there are many opportunities in various fields, such as research, teaching and health care. 

Why did you decide to major in pharmaceutical chemistry?

I knew majoring in pharmaceutical chemistry would give me the strong foundation I needed to do well in pharmacy school. I've wanted to be a pharmacist since I was in high school, because I feel like it's a very stable and very rewarding professional career and I can help the community in so many ways. My dad also influenced me; his health wasn’t the best, and it made me wish I had the knowledge to help my dad and others.

What do you like best about pharmaceutical chemistry?

It's a lot of things you won't learn elsewhere. The classes are tailored to the pharmaceutical industry. The labs are very interesting, and the specific techniques and instruments are very relevant to working in research.

What was your favorite class at UC Davis?

I really liked Pharmaceutical Chemistry 130B. It was about computational methods in drug design. We studied various drugs and drug modification techniques. The goal was creating a specific drug to treat real-life diseases, such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

What did you enjoy about Davis life?

In my free time I like cooking and trying new recipes and trying new restaurants. I really liked going to the farmer's market and just walking around downtown during the evenings. Some of my fondest memories are of developing lifelong friends and relationships at UC Davis. I also enjoyed being part of several clubs, such as the Ambassadors of Math and Physical Sciences. I was also an undergraduate research assistant for the Department of Biomedical Engineering.

Becky Oskin, content strategist for the UC Davis College of Letters and Science.