“Research is a huge challenge for me,” says Emily Chen ’20, named July’s Researcher of the Month by the Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (URECA). “I enjoy having something where I really have to work at it. You’re answering these questions that no one knows the answer to.”
Chen, a Chemical Engineering and Applied Math double major in the Honors College, is the inaugural recipient of the Dr. Kenneth Nicholas undergraduate research fellowship award. Sponsored by Dr. Kenneth M. Nicholas and his wife Sacra N. Nicholas, the Dr. Kenneth M. Nicholas award was established to recognize an outstanding URECA summer research applicant majoring in chemistry (with preference given to students studying chemical synthesis or catalysis).
For the past year, Emily has been working in the organic materials research group of Dr. Nancy Goroff to investigate “Shape-persistent macrocycles as hosts for Iodocarbons: toward formation of Carbyne.”
“We’re trying to form this material called carbyne –a carbon-based material that’s proposed to be a good semiconducting material,” Chen said. “It’s an infinitely long single atomic chain of just carbon. The goal is to find a way to make carbyne, isolate it, and investigate it to understand more about it.”
Chen first developed her skills for doing chemical synthesis as a member of the laboratory of Dr. Stanislaus Wong (Department of Chemistry) in her sophomore year where she worked on mostly inorganic chemistry applications; and subsequently became drawn to doing organic synthesis work as an E 3S Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) participant (summer 2018) at UC Berkeley, working in the laboratory of Dr. Felix Fischer at the Center for Energy Efficient Electronics Science: the REU program focused on lowering energy consumption for semiconductors. In fall 2018, Emily joined the Goroff group at the start of her junior year. She will be applying to graduate Ph.D. programs in chemistry, chemical engineering, and/or materials science in the fall to continue exploring the synthesis and applications of organic semiconducting materials.
Emily has been active as a Teaching Assistant for Organic and General Chemistry (CHE 152, CHE 331/332) and Applied Mathematics (AMS 261) , as well as a Tutor for the Academic Success and Tutoring Center. She is the President and former PR Chair for SBU’s American Institute of Chemical Engineering, is on the Chemical Engineering Undergraduate Planning Committee, and is a member of the Society of Women Engineers and Women in Computer Science. Emily also serves as an Honors College Big Sibling to mentor incoming honors college students, and volunteers at Stony Brook Food Pantry.