Transfer Student Leo Giannini S23 Explores the Intersection of Biochemistry and Art

What attracted you to Hampshire?

I spent three semesters at Seton Hall University, with a biochemistry major and a Russian minor, when I realized I wasn’t fulfilled there. I couldn’t quite pinpoint what it was, but then I realized it was the overwhelming lack of opportunity to do art that was detrimental to me. I also didn’t enjoy many of the required classes that didn’t interest me, so when I discovered that Hampshire exists, I was very excited to apply. It was the freedom to do what I want with my time and the ability to take classes I actually care about that made me come here.

What did you plan to study? Did that change?

Initially, it was biochemistry and environmental studies. However, I’ve now changed that to biochemistry and studio art (sculpture). 

Have any professors or staff members particularly inspired and/or supported you along the way?

Associate Professor of Molecular Biology John Castorino and Senior Studio Arts Faculty Associate Greg Kline have been incredibly helpful throughout my journey here. They’ve supported my projects, talked through my ideas, and helped me plan so that things go smoothly. 

What are you currently working on?

I’m working on developing an organic chemistry board game in Assistant Professor of Physics Kaća Bradonjić’s class, Understanding of Scientific Understanding. I’m in the process of building the physical board in the shape of a cortisol molecule (getting over the stress of organic chemistry!), and I just made molds for the figurines — tiny chemical glassware (beakers, flasks, etc.) that I’ll cast in bronze. This game should eventually help educators teach specific reactions in organic chemistry, once I submit it to the Journal of Chemical Education.  

I’m also working on installing two of my sculptural pieces — a giant book of doors and a life-sized metal horse — somewhere on campus. So far, the plan is to put the book somewhere on the third floor of Cole Science Center, and the horse I still have to figure out.  

Apart from that, I’m actively thinking about and preparing for my Div III next year, in which I’m planning on investigating the metabolism of cancer cells. 

What would you say to a prospective Hampshire student?

Hampshire is really what you make of it. If you’re driven and focused, you’ll be able to thrive here! 

Book with horse by Leo Giannini
Fish by Leo Giannini
Chemistry game and Leo Giannini
Drawing with eyes drying rainbows that reads "Angelic Satisfaction" by Leo Giannini