Degree and Class Year
What three words would you use to describe L&C?
Congratulations on your Goldwater scholarship! What was the application process like?
The application process was fairly straightforward; however, it was complicated by some miscommunication. Professor Louis Kuo first told me about this scholarship and my nomination from L&C to apply. After deciding to complete this application, I started working on the required research essay about one month before the application deadline. This gave me plenty of time to critically think about my research, my interests in chemistry and mathematics, and my future plans. About three days before the deadline, I learned that I needed to answer several other questions about my background, interests, and plans, which made me freak out a little bit. However, since I had spent so much time crafting my research essay and thinking about my own goals, I was able to answer these questions pretty easily and turn in the application on time.
Knowing the chances of receiving this award are slim, I had thought about this application process as a method to better understand my research and think about my future. I had learned a lot about myself throughout the application process and, therefore, hadn’t thought a lot about the award itself. As a result, I was both shocked and honored when I received it. I was also very motivated to continue working on research here at L&C because receiving the award gave me the confidence to explore more of my interests. I have also recently begun to think of how much this award could help other L&C students so I have begun encouraging others to go through the application process.
Can you tell us a little bit about your upcoming research?
I plan on continuing to work with Dr. Kuo creating chemicals that can be used to reduce the amount of pollutants emitted by burning fossil fuels. I will work particularly on identifying specific chemical substructures and atoms that increase a chemical’s ability to remove pollutants from petroleum. In addition, over this summer, I will be working at the University of Southern California on an electrochemistry project. I am not quite sure of what I will be specifically working on yet but I believe it will be related to improving energy storage techniques.
What advice do you have for students interested in similar opportunities to yours?
It’s super important to talk to faculty about research, internships, classes, and other opportunities. They are very familiar with opportunities that are regularly available for students and can use their connections both inside and outside the college to help find ways to explore interests through school, extracurriculars, and work. It is also extremely important to start working on applications and planning to take advantage of certain opportunities as early as possible. This gives you plenty of time to think about your relationship to these opportunities and critically think about how they can help you discover more about yourself.
What made you want to come to Lewis & Clark?
While applying to colleges, I was interested in attending a liberal arts school because I was unsure what I wanted to study and enjoyed learning about all sorts of topics from very different subjects. I also enjoy the sense of community that smaller schools have, and I was looking to attend a college somewhere that was cooler and wetter than Southern California. Both of these interests led me to apply to several small schools in the Pacific Northwest. In addition, I was interested in schools that were close to an urban area but were surrounded with natural spaces. After hearing about Lewis & Clark from two alumni who attended the same high school as me, I decided that L&C matched my interests well and applied to this institution. I decided to attend Lewis & Clark because it is far more diverse than the other institutions I applied to and because there are a lot of hiking trails and parks nearby that I was interested in walking through on a regular basis.
How do you describe the liberal arts?
I think of studying the liberal arts as a way to explore connections between different subjects and gain an understanding of how to approach problems from multiple directions using several different perspectives. It also helps students develop the ability to think creatively and critically about how to work with a variety of people and their ideas to solve complex interdisciplinary issues. It is important to note that the liberal arts are not used specifically to teach students how to perform certain tasks and are instead used to teach students how to learn, think, and therefore more easily pick up skills related to a specific profession later on in life.
What are your career goals after graduate school?
I am not sure yet what I want to do after graduate school, however, I will likely work as an analytical and/or computational chemist. I also like working with Excel and other data processing applications a lot, so I may end up working jobs that involve a lot of data management.