Xin Rou “Natalie” Tan, Biology

Xin Rou “Natalie” Tan
Xin Rou “Natalie” TanSchool of Natural Sciences & Mathematics

At 19 years old, Xin Rou “Natalie” Tan began a journey more than 9,500 miles away from her home in Singapore to begin studying to become what she calls “a future creature repair expert.”

A shadowing experience at a veterinary hospital in high school led her to choose Biology as her major.

In just three years, the Galloway resident completed her Biology degree with minors in Chemistry and Holistic Health, and is headed to Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine this fall.

Culture shock and “starting over in a completely different environment and leaving all my friends behind was a tough feat initially,” she said. 

Finding the Asian Student Alliance (ASA) on campus “felt like a home away from home” and helped to ease the transition and give her a support system.

“Being able to find and learn more about my identity amongst a sea of unfamiliar faces was something that I would never have thought was that important to me,” she said.

Tan wanted to connect with other aspiring veterinarians, so she founded the Pre-Vet Club to build a network for communication, resource sharing and fun events. The group created a photo booth with therapy dogs during Valentine's Day and Easter, which resulted in a cuteness overload on Instagram.

“Just purely knowing that this club that I've founded has and is helping so many other students who are interested in pursuing a career in the animal science field just like myself is amazing,” she said.

Tan is also a member of Delta Epsilon Mu, Inc., which is the nation's premier professional pre-health co-ed fraternity on campus.

Being able to find and learn more about my identity amongst a sea of unfamiliar faces was something that I would never have thought was that important to me.
Outside of class, Tan works as an veterinary ER technician, a position that she describes as “the definition of ‘you don't know what's going to happen the next minute.’”

Lake Fred has been a place that Tan spends a lot of time. Research with Craig Lind, assistant professor of Biology, brought her closer to the reptiles that live beneath the surface and along the bank.

Disease is a primary threat to reptile populations, but modern immune research has focused more on birds and mammals. Lind and Tan wanted to identify potential differences in immune system responses in different orders of reptiles. They worked with two species of turtles, two species of snakes and one alligator species.

To look at immune responses, they gathered blood samples from their study species (the alligator samples were donated) and then processed them in the lab. “We challenged individual’s plasma samples against both bacteria and rabbit red blood cells,” she explained.  They found that the snakes performed better than the turtles and alligator, which performed similarly. 

Tan is excited to continue her journey and will look back fondly on her time at Stockton. “I think I will miss my friends and the warm faculty and staff members the most,” she said, “and Lake Fred.”