Toman finds inspiration in science research


photo via Sneha Bhandari

Toman considers herself as having strengths in science and english

Most people usually like either science and math or English and history, but this was not the case for senior Grace Toman, who considers herself an English and science person. 

She originally was leaning toward pursuing a career in English, and science was just an easy “A” grade for her. However, when she took her first chemistry class during sophomore year, she discovered her passion for the subject, which made her want to pursue it further. 

“That class showed me chemistry in more detail. When we went more in-depth with it, I realized I liked it more than any other sciences,” she said. 

Toman has taken honors chemistry, organic chemistry, and AP chemistry, which cemented her passion for the subject. She said she finds it fascinating that chemistry exists in every aspect of life, whether people are aware of it or not.

“I like that it’s kind of an entire world that you can’t even see. Chemistry is a science that gives you a deeper look into any other science,” she said.

One of her chemistry teachers, Jonathan Tietz, said she is one of his most determined students. 

“She knows what she wants and puts in the work. She’s very intelligent and has worked very hard to achieve her goals. I know she has a promising future ahead of her,” he said. 

Toman’s environmental science teacher, Tina Gaser, agreed. 

“I think her work ethic is excellent. She has a very good balance between being a person and being a student,” she said. 

Toman is also interested in the research aspect of science. The summer before her senior year, she participated in the NASA SEES program. This program, also known as STEM Enhancement in Earth Science, provides selected students with exposure to Earth and space research. 

“I worked with other kids from all around the country to write a research paper about the relation between precipitation and the Nile virus. That really got me interested in research itself,” she said. “It was my first experience writing a lab report.”

Most recently, Toman participated in the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science competition at the state level where she, along with a few other students, earned a first-place designation. 

Toman was the first female Baldwin student to qualify for PJAS states in many years.

“I’m just really proud. Everyone that I’ve talked to hasn’t remembered a time where a (Baldwin) girl has qualified for PJAS. I hope this can inspire more girls to participate in it,” Toman said. 

I wanted to make sure that my research connected to the real world in an impactful way.

— Grace Toman

Toman’s project for the science fair was about the relationship between the socioeconomic status of a community and the quality of water that they had access to. She found that poorer communities had worse water when it came to the pH and phosphates. 

“I wanted to make sure that my research connected to the real world in an impactful way,” she said. 

Gaser believes that Toman reached that goal. 

“She didn’t just take the easy way out. Instead, she morphed it into something that has social justice involved and I am very proud of her for that. It took on more of a humanity aspect and it has a purpose,” she said. 

Toman is attending the University of Pittsburgh this fall and is planning on majoring in biochemistry. She hopes to still be involved in research as she pursues higher education.