This past year has been a particularly difficult and enlightening one due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the start of my junior year, I was unsure how I would be impacted academically and in my daily life, but over time I made the best of my circumstances. I began the year with fully online classes, taking Physical Chemistry 1, Linear Algebra, Inorganic Chemistry and Honors Intro to Cultural Anthropology. It was an adjustment, but it gave me more flexibility as to where to take my classes. In this way, I was able to go to my research lab more frequently because I could take my classes while experiments were progressing. However, I also ran into the issue of being limited on space and equipment due to social distancing requirements. I made the best of an unfortunate situation as I could.
In October of 2020, I was invited to join The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi. This honor society extends invitations to only the top 7.5% of juniors and 10% of seniors and graduate students. Notable members include Nobel Prize winners, Pulitzer Prize winners, NASA astronauts, U.S. Supreme Court Justices, and more. I was thrilled by the opportunity to become connected to so many intelligent and well respected members both at Ohio State and around the country. I was eventually asked to be the Treasurer for the student organization a few months later for the 2021-2022 academic year. This position holds responsibilities managing funding and budgeting for the student organization in order to execute events for members. This position also doubles with the title “Student Vice President” for the national chapter. In this role, I will work alongside the Chapter 155 faculty/staff executive board to manage chapter issues.
My second semester, I continued my rigorous course load with Physical Chemistry 2, Physical Chemistry Lab, Instrumental Chemical Analysis and History of Classical Greece. Though 75% of my classes were still fully online, I worked hard to ensure that the online format did not affect my learning or academic growth. I also continued making strides in my research project, as the university began to return to its normal operations. In April of 2021, I had the opportunity of presenting a poster on my polydopamine research in the Division of Colloid and Surface Chemistry (COLL) at the ACS Spring 2021 National Conference. The project on which I presented consists of synthesizing, characterizing and studying both the excited states and physical properties of polydopamine, a synthetic eumelanin model. The objective of my project was to uncover how assembly alters the excited state dynamics and optical properties of polydopamine in hopes of better understanding the role aggregation plays in determining the differences that dictate eumelanin’s photo-protective and photo-reactive properties.
At the end of the year, I was also elected Outreach Chair for the Chemistry and Biochemistry Club in the 2021-2022 academic year. I have been a member of this organization for the past three years, but this is the first leadership position I have obtained. In this role, I will be interfacing with speakers in industry, academia and government roles to present at club meetings, organizing and leading social media & online marketing to promote the club and coordinating club outings and outreach programs. I also had the opportunity this year of becoming a member of the American Chemical Society Buckeye Chapter and participating in a virtual Buckeyethon on a team through my sorority, Alpha Xi Delta.
To culminate all of these accomplishments, I was awarded the “American Chemical Society Undergraduate Award in Physical Chemistry” through Ohio State’s Department Chemistry and Biochemistry and ACS. This award “recognizes outstanding achievement by an undergraduate student in physical chemistry who is committed to a career in chemistry. Awardees receive an official certificate from the ACS Division of Physical Chemistry, recognition on the Division’s website, and a one-year complimentary membership in the Division” (OSU’s CBC website). To obtain this award, I was nominated by my Principal Investigator, Prof. Bern Kohler, and selected from a pool of nominated students by faculty and staff on the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.