My first research experience was the summer of 2017 when I worked in Dr. Felix’s lab. I worked on synthesizing compounds to then be tested with borenium ions, which also had to be made in lab. The techniques and methods I learned in lab reaffirmed the things I learned in class and through the process, I found a passion for research. I got the opportunity to present a poster at an American Chemical Society meeting and give a talk on my research at a Chemistry Department seminar, which challenged me to communicate my work to others. I continued to do research on a new project the next school year and got to practice problem solving and troubleshooting reactions. Dr. Felix challenged me to do my own literature search to solve problems within the syntheses of compounds. The biggest surprise was that my research was working and I was seeing the results of my work. Having these research experiences has given me confidence in lab and furthered my desire to continue to do research in my career.
When Dr. Felix approached me about being a mentor, I was mainly surprised. At the time, I wasn’t sure what knowledge I could offer that students wouldn’t already know. I was also challenged to make this research my own and do more independent work. I could relate to the students in his summer research because I could still remember what it felt like to be in a new lab and starting to do things on my own. This opened the door to give advice and teach techniques that I had acquired through my own lab experience. I could relate to mistakes they made because I had made them myself. It was really cool to see how independent they became after only a week of research and to continue to see their confidence grow throughout the summer.
Mentoring in lab challenged me to not only problem solve but learn how to communicate science more effectively. These are all the things that I’ve learned throughout the STAR program but this specific experience has allowed me to put these skills to practice. We talk about these lessons in classes at Austin College, but having the confidence and means to practice them has shown me how impactful these skills really are. I have become a more well-rounded scientist and have furthered my passion for the science I love.