Name: Rubia Fernandes
Class Year: 2021
Hometown: Medford, Mass.
Internship Organization: Bryn Mawr College, Chemistry Department
Job Title: Assistant Researcher
Location: Bryn Mawr, Pa.
What’s happening at your internship?
I started my internship at the beginning of June working in a chemistry research lab at Bryn Mawr College. In my first few weeks, my team replicated the same synthesis that our advising professor had worked on previously. The organic molecules that consisted of transition metal complexes would be the basis of photosynthesizers, and electron relay compounds used in the cycle used to synthesize hydrogen energy. After my lab mates and I had completed these synthesizes, we proceeded to research and develop a plan about how to synthesize bimetallic compounds that in theory could facilitate the synthesis of hydrogen by combining two steps in the cycle mentioned previously. Our lab has been split into two teams focused on two different paths that ultimately leads to the same goal.
My lab partner and I have been trying to synthesize the two molecules that we will use to test our theory. Sometimes, the process can be very frustrating when things don’t work out the way you thought. For example, just this past week we have been replicating a paper’s research methods to obtain a pure, white product … ours was purple. Even after attempting to purify, it, our analyzation of it still showed some undesirable compound within the product. This was frustrating to deal with, especially since we had the same outcome with our second attempt.
Why did you apply for this internship?
I applied for this internship because I am interested in pursuing research as a future career. In particular, I am interested in environmental science with a focus on sustainability and energy. I thought that this would be a good opportunity for me to gain experience in the field and see whether I would enjoy working in a lab environment.
What has been the biggest challenge you have faced at your internship?
The biggest challenge that I have faced with my internship is not being able to connect the work that I am doing in the lab with the big goal: sustainable energy. Although I can understand how it connects and why it’s important, daily it can sometimes be difficult to see it. For me, this has been an important insight into what needs to be done to achieve a big goal.
Was this internship what you expected it to be?
The internship has been a lot more independent work than I thought it would be. I expected to be an aid to the professor’s current research but instead it’s been more of an independent project in the same area as what the professor done previously. At the beginning, it took a bit to get used to and shift my mindset a bit once we started to work on our specific projects. Now, I have gotten used to the work environment and adjusted my expectations to the lab’s structure.