CURCA Research Ambassador Story: Bao Sciscent

Posted by CURCA on March 14, 2018 in News & Announcements

When and  how did you first become involved with an undergraduate research project?

I did not consider research until I joined the Advanced Honors College, which has a thesis requirement. Also, I added a chemistry major at the end of my junior year. When I joined the department, I was assigned an academic advisor with whom I spoke about research in general with. At first, I intended on looking for an advisor in the medical field or working in a medial-related field. However, my academic advisor was so enthusiastic about his work, that even though I understood almost nothing about his work, it seemed interesting and I figured I would learn something different. My academic advisor turned out to be my research advisor as well!

Describe your undergraduate research project.

Mechanistic studies of non-heme metal complexes. This project involves the synthesis of ligands to make metal complexes using transitions metals such as Iron and Zinc and then going on to derive mechanistic details through kinetic studies.

In addition to this: Photochemistry Outreach Program with High School students. The goal of this project is to allow high school students the opportunity to participate in hands on lab laboratory research in order to encourage students to pursue STEM in college.

Explain how you obtained a CURCA $500 Undergraduate Research Award and what it was used for. How was the award beneficial to your academic experience at UB?

Last year I was awarded the CURCA grant and the Honors College Research & Creative Activities grant. It was the first grant I ever wrote so it was tough at first and as a science major, I don’t do a lot of writing in my courses. I visited the CURCA office twice to review my proposal before submissions, which I found to be very helpful especially with all of the technical details that must be perfected before submission.

The grant helped fund all the chemicals, glassware, and instrument use that I needed for both my projects.

Describe what it is like working in a lab.

Working in a lab is actually relaxing and fun, but also tough at the same time, especially as an undergraduate student. Everyone helps each other out and everyone also learns from each other inside and outside the lab. I think the lab I am in is one lab where everyone gets along and everyone will celebrate each other’s birthdays, go out to an activity, or just hang out together.

On the other hand, due to the nature of chemistry research, it is very time consuming and if one step goes wrong you cannot always undo the mistake. Also as someone who did not have much lab experience coming in, I didn’t know how to perform many techniques or use a certain instrument and constantly asked graduate students in the lab for guidance.

How has your faculty mentor influenced you?

My faculty mentor has positively influenced my confidence, thought process in chemistry, time management skills, and writing skills. In the lab, there is rarely 100% yield or perfect results so you usually learn by doing. Currently, one of my lab mates has an elaborate setup of strings and a ruler that he figured out works best to run a kinetics experiment.

My faculty mentor trains every student before he/she starts in the lab and is always willing to answer any questions, help out with a technique, or just discuss any topic of interest to you.

Stop by the Celebration of Student Academic Excellence in UB’s Center for the Arts on April 26th to learn more about Bao’s research!