Wow I can't believe that this is my last day of Project SEED. I still remember my first day two years ago when I was absolutely terrified of this place. Everything was overwhelming and I felt like there was no way I was going to be able to do any of this. Even this year, with my new project and graduate student I was a little overwhelmed.
I've learned a lot though, from my two summers with Project SEED. It really opened my eyes to what working in an academic lab is like and how different the atmosphere is between high school and college; between secondary school and the professional world.
Being from a small high school where most people didn't go outside of our small town, it was an immensely new experience to work with people from India, the Philippines and other places. College is really a place that thrives from it's diversity.
The lab that I worked in is an Inorganic, Organometallic and Polymer Chemistry lab. So a lot of research goes on here. My first year there were a lot of people working in the lab and my project was optimizing the GC and IR for simple reaction mixture analysis of ATRA. A lot of it involved wondering why our machines weren't working...But in the end I got my data.
This year I had a new graduate student, Raj, and a new project, the synthesis of copper(I) cyanide coordination polymers. It was really interesting since this research is recently becoming more popular because of the applications for metal organic frameworks (MOF's). MOF's are porous materials that can kind of act like a net to catch different molecules.
At first we made some known coordination polymers, but then we started synthesizing new ones. Sometimes it was hard to get good crystals for X-ray crystallography, because our coordination polymers would crash out and we would get powder instead. It was exciting when we did get nice crystals though! Those were good days.
Some of my favorite parts of SEED were the field trips. Of course, just working here at first was it's own experience, but the field trips to different companies and research facilities provided even more exposure into the post-high-school world of science. Visiting W&J was really beneficial because, before, I had heard that it was a good school, but I always shrugged it off and never thought it was somewhere I would go. After visiting there's no question about applying for W&J, it's just too nice of a school to not apply and when I say nice I mean in terms of academics, faculty, opportunities, food(!), and more.
Overall, I've learned a lot from Project SEED. It's hard to express in words how much this has has changed me and my future decisions. It's best described as your eyes being opened to something that was there all along, you just had to know where to look and how to find it.
Finally, I want to thank everyone who made this possible; my graduate students, Matt Taylor and Carol Ricardo (first year) and Raj Kaur (second year), my professor (Dr. Tomislav Pintauer, an awesome professor), my advisor Josh Lucas, Dr. Aitken, all of the Project SEED students (2010, 2011 and the alumni who returned), the American Chemical Society Project SEED Office, Sto-Rox High School's faculty and staff, Gavin and Kristen from Dr. Gawalt's lab and everyone else at Duquesne University for making this such a wonderful experience.