NSF Undergraduate Research Experience in Chemistry

bjbj Astrid Olivares>>I love being in here.
It s just coming in and putting your lab coat on, it feels so nice because I ve never had
one. I am from California. I come from a really small school in Thousand Oaks. It s near the
L.A. area, really close to Malibu and we have about 2,400 students. Our classes are really
small and I was looking to get involved in research. I m majoring in biochemistry and
I had an idea that I wanted to work in a lab, but I ve never had the opportunity to work
in an actual lab besides lab classes. My school doesn t have a lot of resources for research
so there s maybe a little bit here and there so I was looking to reach for an opportunity
that would let me get in the lab and I came across the NSF website and they listed tons
and tons of schools that had different REU programs and I didn t even know they had these
type of programs. I just went through them, looked for ones that seemed interesting, schools
with chemistry programs, and I just applied to a bunch of them. I heard back from K-State
and I was super excited and I said yes, of course. I absolutely love this group and I
m really glad. It just feels absolutely right. I was given an experiment and what really,
really got me interested and excited was that no one else has been doing this, it s not
like I m repeating an experiment or taking over anything. It was a brand new project.
So I ve been working in supermolecular chemistry so I work with active pharmaceutical ingredients
and I m taking a bunch of different drugs that for multiple reasons haven t been released
to the market so I ve been taking those drugs and doing some experiments with different
hydrogen and halogen bond donors and seeing if there s any way that without tampering
the structure of the active pharmaceutical ingredient to change the physical properties
to make them better drugs, to make them have better solubility, higher melting point, that
sort of thing. So I ve been working on that for the last seven weeks and I ve learned
a lot about this field, which is really interesting and, you know, it s amazing how you can just
take a molecule and try to make it interact with another and then just change the physical
properties of it. Just little things like washing a test tube has been amazing and exciting
because it s all new and I just want to soak it all in. For any student who might be a
little bit scared or nervous to do research, it s absolutely not scary, especially when
you have such nice teammates around you and a great advisor. They really mentor you through
the whole thing and it s exciting. It absolutely has definitely reconfirmed that I ve made
the right choice. I do want to be working in a lab. I definitely want to go to grad
school and pursue a higher degree and it s definitely changed my life and made me realize
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