Name: Jacqueline Bustamante
Year: Fourth year
What is a memorable project that you worked on during your time at UC Merced?
My experience working on the synthesis of organic molecules known as dibenzocyclooctadienes (DBCOD) in Professor Jennifer Lu ’s lab greatly affected me. This research experience exposed me to organic chemistry and allowed me to receive outstanding training from post-doctoral researcher Wenxin Fu. Working among the post-docs was a challenging environment that allowed me to hone my skills and approach problems with an open mind. Wenin’s dedication to science really resonated with me, and I look forward to applying the skills I acquired at UC Merced to my upcoming summer internship with Merck & Co pharmaceuticals.
What did you learn personally and academically by participating in this?
The experiential learning provided by the Merced nAnomaterials Center for Energy and Sensing (MACES) was invaluable. Working with graduate students from different disciplines (i.e physics, engineering) enabled me to see the world from different perspectives. The culture of my lab allowed me to succeed, but more importantly, I learned to be resilient among the challenges I came across when preforming new reactions. In Professor Lu’s lab, I feel like I am part of a team that welcomes every student and gives each of us opportunities to grow, overcome weaknesses and strengthen our skills. The guidance and experience I gained in the lab will allow me to thrive as I pursue my Ph.D. in organic chemistry at UCLA this fall.
UC Merced has a lot of opportunities for experiential learning. What would you say to a future student who wants to be involved?
I encourage students to use resources and programs such as the STEM Resource Center, MACES and the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Center (UROC). I would like to acknowledge STEM Center Coordinator Petia Gueorguieva, Ph.D., who served as one of my mentors that helped me excel academically. Petia is a great resource, connecting me with chemistry faculty and helping me get a National Science Foundation-funded scholarship through math and physical sciences program. I am grateful for the continuous support of my research advisor, Professor Lu. As director of the MACES program, she strongly values increasing the participation of underrepresented students in research. As a result of being an intern for three consecutive years, I feel confident in my lab skills in chemistry, as well as my communication skills. MACES exposed me to rigorous research training and the ability to present my work among my colleagues.