Mai Nguyen

1. What is your specific area of research (include the name of your faculty and/or laboratory)?
My research focus in Dr. Zhibin Guan’s laboratory has been on synthesizing organic polymers with a UPY-based system. These polymers are synthesized for AFM analytical studies on the strength of regulated H-bondings involved. The model is based on the characteristics involved in the natural titin proteins in muscle sacromere.
2. When and how did you first get involved in research?
I began research in the Spring Quarter of 2002. After taking an organic chemistry class taught by Dr. Guan, I was fascinated by the chemical interactions involved in organic chemistry as well as the methodology of research. I investigated the different research projects that were being conducted by professors in organic chemistry and biology. I realized that I was most interested in Dr. Guan’s research projects, and so I made an appointment to see him at the beginning of the spring quarter. Fortunately, Dr. Guan had open position in his lab and I had the opportunity to join him.
3. How has research enhanced you education?
Research has significantly enhanced my critical thinking skills in addition to my knowledge of chemistry. Aside from learning the basic skills required to run different reactions, I came to realize that in a majority of cases, theoretical certainties in a text are nothing more than hypotheses. In the beginning, research can become very frustrating when data do not correlate; however, through successive trials, when the right data emerged, it was exhilarating. I came to realize just how much thought and discipline goes into research, and I admire those who dedicate their lives to the pursuit of knowledge. Being in research has given me a different insight into science, and has shaped me into an independent thinker. No longer do I blindly accept data presented in a textbook without an appreciation of the tremendous work that was required to attain such results.
4. What has been you favorite experience with research (include any interesting stories or specific events)?
I think that being in research is a rewarding experience, but it is also the people that you work with that make the experience even more enjoyable. I think that I am blessed personally, to be able to work with very dedicated, fun graduate and post-doctoral students.
5. What are your future plans and how has being involved in research helped to prepare you to meet your goals?
My aspiration is to attend medical school with an emphasis in clinical research. Being in research has made me realize just how much I enjoy the new challenges that would surface in the realm of research. It has helped prepare me mentally for what will be required once I am in such a program, as well as develop the skills I need to succeed in any type of research in biology or chemistry.
6. What advice would you give to a student interested in pursuing a faculty-mentored undergraduate research project or creative activity?
My advice would be, “definitely go for it”. Research does entail a lot of dedication, but with the right attitude, the right reasons, and of course a bunch of interesting and fun co-workers, no other college experience could compare with it.

Past Researchers of the Month

Dec. '03 Jana Remy
Nov. '03 Jacqueline Chattopadhyay
Oct. '03 Anshuman Chadha
Sep. '03 Ted K. Yanagihara
Aug. '03 Stephanie Domzalski
Jul. '03 Susan Milden
Jun. '03 Mai Nguyen
May '03 Chris Smith
Apr. '03 Erin Ramsey
Mar. '03 Michael Williams
Feb. '03 Emily Slusser
Jan. '03 Laleh Boroujerdi-Rad
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