Carmelita Ro-Mendez’s Summer Research Ignites Passion for the Environment

November 29, 2022
Woman gesturing talking to people near large poster board

Carmelita Ro-Mendez certainly makes the most of her summer time off from Yale. She’s spent the last two gaining valuable research experience – moving closer to her goal of a research career in chemistry.

“I participated in summer programs to gain the full-time research experience that is not possible during the school year,” said Carmelita. “These diverse research opportunities sparked my passion for using chemistry to positively impact our environment and inspired me to pursue a graduate degree in chemistry.”

This past summer, Carmelita, an undergraduate researcher from the Holland Lab, broadened her research experience while exploring career pathways centered on green chemistry and energy research by participating in George Washington University’s Chemistry Research Experience for Undergraduates.

The program provides transformative research experiences for underrepresented undergraduate students so they can improve their understanding of science as a whole and make decisions about their future careers. It fills a knowledge gap that comes with students being siloed into specific classes each semester, often missing collaborations that illuminate the broader picture.

The research topics focus on sustainability, from synthesizing novel polymers for water desalination to developing improved, safe imaging techniques for healthcare applications. The topics are exciting, challenging, and relevant to the student’s experience.

Carmelita worked with the Kostal and Voutchkova Groups to develop a research project, gain training in relevant techniques and instrumentation, collect data, utilize computational methods, and produce a research abstract and poster entitled “Probing the mechanism of mixed metal oxide-catalyzed glycolysis of PET.”

During the summer of 2021, Carmelita participated in the University of Washington’s Molecular Engineering Materials Center Research/Education Program. The research topics focused on material resilience and innovation, from providing inexpensive energy sources to developing super miniaturized, low-energy consumption electronics.

She worked with the Gamelin Group to synthesize and characterize metal halide perovskite nanocrystals and thin films. In this five-minute presentation, she explains her studies on perovskites and their applications on solar cells, light-emitting diodes, and other technologies.

Both programs featured educational components, including weekly seminars on research ethics, writing a research abstract, making a scientific poster, as well as reading scientific journals, and touring other labs.

Carmelita is a junior at Yale, studying biomimetic iron complexes for ammonia production in the Holland Lab. When she’s not characterizing complexes, she enjoys playing the cello and dancing.