Sunday, November 6, 2011

Summer on My Mind

The weather in Des Moines is starting to get cold, and I’m starting to reminisce about the very hot 100 F temperatures I got to experience day after day in Madrid this summer.

Although winter is almost here, summer is on my mind for a different reason. Next summer, I would like to conduct research in analytical or inorganic chemistry at a large research institution; to determine if it is the Lord’s will for me to pursue graduate school. Luckily for me, the National Science Foundation funds Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) at various colleges and universities throughout the country and world.

An REU is essentially 10 weeks of full time research with other REU students, graduate students, and post doctorate scholars. Graduate school for the physical sciences consists of mostly research, so I think it will be the perfect opportunity to see if pursuing a Ph.D. is right for me. REU programs also offer other extra curricular activities besides just the research including: workshops on utilizing library and electronic resources, professional development workshops, seminar presentations on research and new developments, picnics, visits to corporations in industry, and a variety of recreational activities.

There’s a wide range of programs to choose from, and I’ve decided to apply to six – Colorado State University, Georgetown University, Graz University of Technology (Austria), the University of Michigan, Penn State University, and Syracuse University.

The main criteria I used to select these programs was the types of research the faculty are involved in at their respective institutions. If I’m going to be doing 4,000 + hours of research over the next summer, I want to study a topic of chemistry that interests me. I also took into account the location of the schools. I really enjoyed my summer in Spain last summer, and I want a new adventure this summer. I have not been to any of these six locations before, and based off of what I’ve researched so far, they all seem like they’d be a good fit for my liking. I get excited thinking of the possibility of running at the foot of the Rocky Mountains for 10 weeks (at CSU in Ft. Collins) or spending a summer in the alps (Graz)!

This process is just beginning; half of these programs haven’t even released their applications yet. I’m really thankful that two of my chemistry professors volunteered to write letters of recommendation for me. I’ve been able to get a lot of sound input and advice from them, and feel confident in the six programs I have selected. I most likely won’t be able to decide on a program until February or March, but I’ll keep you updated on the process.

Until Next time,


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