Incoming student duo aim to research mysteries of human body, mind

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Twins Anton and Sean Sachs are both curious about what makes people tick — Anton from a biological standpoint and Sean psychologically. This fall, they will embark on similar but separate journeys to find out at Arizona State University’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, where Anton will pursue a degree in biology, with a concentration in pharmacology and toxicology, and Sean will pursue a degree in psychology.

Born one minute apart 18 years ago, the pair were homeschooled their whole lives and learned the importance of good study habits and organizational skills from a young age. Since taking a few college courses at Glendale Community College near their home in Peoria, Anton and Sean are eager to dive into the abundant research opportunities available to them at New College on the West campus.

Anton got a head start with an undergraduate summer research program at the Swette Center for Environmental Biotechnology, where he got a taste of the supportive culture of ASU.

“There are a lot of caring faculty at ASU who go out of their way to help students, not just in class but also with extracurricular activities, and not just academically but also mentally,” he said.

But even if all else fails, they know they’ve always got each other.

“I have a built-in study partner and resource who I respect and who can help broaden my horizons to learn more about not only what I’m studying but also what he’s studying,” Sean said of his brother.

Ahead of the fall semester, ASU Now asked Anton and Sean to answer some questions about what makes them tick.

Anton and Sean Sachs

Anton (left) and Sean Sachs

Question: Why did you choose ASU?

Anton: I applied to multiple schools, and the main thing I was looking at was whether they had opportunities for undergraduate research. I chose ASU because it has a wide variety of academic majors, and I chose New College at the West campus because it combines two things that are important to me: It has the smaller college environment where you can have a good connection with your professors and other students, but it’s still part of ASU so you still have access to great research opportunities.

Sean: I chose ASU because when I took a close look at what was going on there, I realized there’s a lot of different research opportunities compared to NAU or UofA. I picked New College at the West campus because I was used to getting more personalized attention taking classes at Glendale Community College, so I wanted to stick with the smaller campus experience. And it’s close to home.

Q: What drew you to your major?

Anton: I’ve taken a bunch of biology classes at Glendale Community College, and I was really interested in learning more about it and the study of life. And since I want to be a physician assistant in the future, it seemed like a good idea.

Sean: A couple years ago I started thinking about my major, and initially, I thought I wanted to study the medical side of things, like my brother. But then I took Psych 101 (at community college), and I had a great professor and I wanted to learn more about why people do the things they do. So when it actually came time to apply for college, I looked back at the classes that were the most fun and the most interesting, and I chose psychology.

Q: What are you most excited to experience your first semester?

Anton: Learning how to refine my study habits. I’m already a pretty good student, but I want to be even more efficient. When I took classes at GCC, I was only taking like two per semester, and now I’m taking, like, five, so I’ll have to make that adjustment. I’m also just excited to adjust to the lifestyle of attending a four-year university. It’s a lot different from a community college. The classes are similar, but there are a lot more research opportunities available to me.

Sean: I’m excited to start getting to know my professors and fellow students, and to also take a look at all the different research opportunities and clubs in my field.

Q: What do you like to brag about to friends about ASU?

Anton: ASU has prestigious schools and faculty, and it’s a big university with lots of opportunities. The Biodesign Institute is doing lots of cutting-edge research that I’m interested in being a part of in the future. I did an undergraduate summer research program at the Swette Center for Environmental Biotechnology and I loved it, but there are so many other different types of research at Biodesign that I can try out.

Sean: I try not to brag but the small class sizes at West are a big plus, and the faculty I’ve met so far are really involved with their students, and the research being done at ASU is more cutting edge and farther advanced than other universities.

Q: What talents and skills are you bringing to the ASU community?

Anton: I am naturally really curious, and I love learning — not just science and biology but learning in general. And since I did summer research, I already have some experience being a research assistant.

Sean: I’m really good about studying. I was lucky to have been taught to study well, so I’m not afraid of it. And I think I make connections easily, which will be important later on in upper-division courses and when I’m thinking about PhD programs.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish during your college years?

Anton: Obviously I want to get good grades, but that’s not the most important thing to me. The most important thing is to make connections and have good relationships with faculty and students. I also want to do a bunch of extracurricular activities, such as joining clubs or possibly even starting a club. At GCC, I was president of the pre-med club, so I’m interested in starting one at West. I also want to get experience as a medical scribe, and do more research and more volunteering to help prepare for grad school.

Sean: I want to get myself set up and well-prepared to pursue a doctorate or master’s program. I also would like to get more experience doing research and hopefully even publish an article.

Q: What’s one interesting fact about yourself that only your friends know?

Anton: I like to be organized. Since childhood, I was always naturally organized.

Sean: I’m one minute younger than my brother.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem in our world, what would you choose?

Anton: Most world problems can’t be solved with $40 million, so I would probably invest it somehow. But it would probably be something medically related, like preventing a major disease, like heart disease or cancer.

Sean: I’d try to use the money to make psychological and medical research have more of an impact for the average person, more affordably. I’d also use some of that money to fund more research that looks at the areas between medical and social science research because that’s not explored very much.

Q: Predictions on the final score for this year’s Territorial Cup game?

Anton: I’d say it’ll probably be close, with ASU winning.

Sean: From what I’ve seen, those games are usually pretty close. The football teams seem to be pretty evenly matched. So I’m going to say 12-10, ASU.