Heterogeneous Photochemistry: Looking into the Past and Future

Here is my update for the last week or so. The project has caused me to look into the past of the project I am currently on and reflect on the future ahead of me. I’ll start with the past. In the last week, I have set up an experiment with the catalyst under conditions that are known to work. This experiment had very promising results but a flaw in the procedure means this experiment needs to be rerun to make sure the data is reliable. This repeat of the experiment is being set up today and the results are hopefully going to be more consistent since I believe we have found a place in the photochemistry procedure which is a contributor to the inconsistent results. If this experiment fulfills expectations, I will go back to the controls. Ideally, these control experiments will be complete before the school year so that the project is in a good place when I am not working full time anymore.

Now that I looked back, now it is time to look ahead. This summer has given me a great opportunity. This is the first time that I have been able to be full time and focus on my research since joining the lab in the spring semester of my freshman year. I have had the opportunity to see what a potential job in the future would be like. I have enjoyed this experience and I am happy that I could see what a research job is like before fully committing to a research career path.

Furthermore, everyone else who is in lab with me this summer has been writing a thesis or thinking about their future career path which sparked my own investigation. The idea of graduate school has become more real to me this summer. I will be a junior this upcoming year so I need to start thinking about writing a thesis, what concentration of chemistry I would like to pursue and what career I would like down the line. I do not have all the answers yet, but a career in chemistry will be fulfilling and this summer has put me one step closer. This opportunity has put me in the right mindset to plan out my options and take full advantage of the academic year ahead of me.