"I do my own research with my own hypotheses."
Kaitlyn Perez '15, chemistry
"I decided I wanted to pursue chemistry when I was a sophomore in high school. Bucknell offered me the chance to start doing research in my first year, right out of high school, as a Presidential Fellow. I chose a project dealing with iron, with Professor Kerber.
"I'm looking at iron atoms bridged by an oxygen atom. Molecules like these are fundamentally representative of several types of human enzymes. Specifically, I'm studying oxidation reactions, where a hydrogen atom is transferred from an organic compound to an iron molecule.
"In the beginning of the semester, I'd meet with Professor Kerber to talk theoretically about what the experiments would look like. He showed me how to do everything, and gradually I learned how to use the equipment. I've had the chance to use high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) to separate and analyze the organic products of my reactions, along with ultraviolet-visible spectroscopy (UV-Vis), which uses the color of a solution to measure the amounts of iron present in my products.
"Now Professor Kerber assigns me a goal for the end of the semester, and I come up with ways to reach that goal. I still talk to him about my work, and we collaborate, but he no longer has to stand over my shoulder. I do my own research with my own hypotheses."
Kaitlyn is from Clark, N.J.Posted April 25, 2012