Lauren Feden, a studio art and chemistry double major, worked in a chemistry lab over the summer as part of a research experience for undergraduates (REU). The Hastings College senior researched alongside others and solidified her plans to apply to grad schools for chemistry.
The Papillion, Nebraska, native spent the summer in Lawrence, Kansas, to complete the REU in the Barybin lab at the University of Kansas. Feden wanted to get more experience in chemistry as she neared graduation, so Dr. Neil Heckman, Hastings College professor of chemistry, encouraged her to apply for an REU.
“It’s so important to get real-world experience to have on your resume when applying to grad school,” she said.
Feden worked in an inorganic synthesis lab and synthesized a molecule with potential to be used as materials for molecular electronics. The lab group has attempted other synthetic routes in the past, but had not achieved the desired molecule until this summer. The graduate student she worked under proposed the synthetic route, and it turned out to be a success.
The lab synthesized the molecule to study the electrochemical properties, which was made possible by synthesizing each half of the molecule and linking those together. The lab has synthesized many molecules with potential as materials for molecular electronics before. The molecule Feden worked on completed a family of pi-linkers with interesting electrochemical properties to be studied.
After completing the research, Feden presented a formal research presentation. Having never done a scientific presentation before, she said it was a valuable learning experience to prepare a scientific poster and give a presentation to a roomful of chemistry experts.
To help undergraduates learn more about what they can do in the future, the university brought in weekly speakers during the summer, which Feden said was helpful. She said the experience gave her the confidence to apply to grad schools for chemistry, with a goal of earning a PhD in chemistry.
Feden said she was confident in the lab during her REU thanks, in part, to chemistry professor Dr. Moses Dogbevia, who pushes students to be self-reliant in the lab.
“I could confidently apply what I’ve learned in the lab at Hastings to what I was doing in Kansas,” she said.