If there is one thing that I have learned in my time at Franciscan, it is that God must think He is pretty funny. No seriously. I mean it. In high school my least favorite subject of all time was Chemistry (sorry Mrs. Herbig). I HATED Chemistry. Ok, well, not hated, but very strongly disliked. Now here I am approaching my senior year with one of my majors being Chemistry. Am I crazy? Well maybe. But here is how it came to be…
I entered Franciscan having no idea what I wanted to do. I had decided I wanted to be a Biology major since I enjoyed my AP Biology class in high school. When I originally came for a visit my junior year of high school, one of the professors told my mother that if I was majoring in Biology, then I should major in Chemistry too since it was only a few more classes. There seemed to have been miscommunication between my mom and the professor because majoring in Chemistry is actually a LOT more classes! When I found this out in the start of my freshman year, I was thinking about dropping my chemistry major. However, as a requirement for Biology, I had to take Organic Chemistry (Ochem). Being a freshman in Ochem was pretty nerve wracking. I had always heard Ochem was extremely hard. However, as I went through the class and talked more to my professor Dr. Jeffrey Rohde, I began to really enjoy chemistry!
Later that first semester, my life really took a turn when Dr. Rohde asked me if I would like to come with him to Chicago for the summer to partake in a newly established Franciscan University internship at AbbVie Inc. (formerly Abbott Laboratories). AbbVie is a biopharmaceutical company, and Dr. Rohde worked there for 13 years before coming to teach at Franciscan. So that summer I embarked on my first journey to Chicago and discovered my love of Medicinal Chemistry! My project was to develop new compounds for the treatment of Tuberculosis. That summer I made 8 new compounds which had never existed before on the face of the earth, all of which had the potential to be the new cure for Tuberculosis! Because I loved the internship so much, I decided to go back a second summer! The second summer I developed over 40 new compounds. Needless to say, I was smitten with Chemistry.
This summer, I wanted to do something different. I knew I needed to get out of my comfort zone and explore new fields of Chemistry. Since Franciscan is a small school, I thought that I would have limited outside opportunities. So when I applied for an international research experience for undergraduates (IREU) through the American Chemical Society (ACS), I had my doubts I would get it. I applied for it anyways because the research really interested me, and one of the locations was Perugia, Italy which is 12 miles from Assisi!
I was in Physics lab when I found out that I had been chosen as an ACS-IREU Scholar and would be spending my summer conducting chemistry research at the University of Perugia. I almost fell over. Out of hundreds of applicants, I was one of 17 to be chosen to conduct research internationally. I get my airfare covered, a $4000 stipend for travel, and a stipend for language training (Rosetta Stone). Additionally, I get to present my research at the ACS NATIONAL meeting in Denver, Colorado next spring!!!
God has definitely been funny in opening doors for me in areas I never thought I would go in. I invite you to follow me as I step though the door God has opened for me as I venture to Perugia and conduct research on new environmentally-friendly methodologies for the preparation of organic semiconductors towards the fully green production of solar electricity. Sure it’s not Medicinal Chemistry, but I guess Green Chemistry is great too!
Chemistry Joke of the Blog Post:
What is the only masculine element? HElium