As one of only 20 students selected from about 150 applications for a prestigious summer research experience, UW-Green Bay chemistry student Eli Broman knew he needed to make the most out of the experience.
The Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) at the University of Minnesota – Materials Research Science Engineering Center (MRSEC) provided an experience of a lifetime for the Minnesota native.
“It is the best learning experience I’ve ever had,” said Broman, who is also a Green Bay swimmer. “I was looking into finding an opportunity to have undergraduate research, and this program says it right in the name!”
The REU program is a 10-week summer program designed to provide undergraduates with unique research experiences, increase their knowledge of materials science and engineering, and help with professional development. Participants complete research in a UMN MRSEC research group from the three Interdisciplinary Research Groups offered: Electrostatic Control of Materials, Sustainable Nanocrystal Materials, Hierarchical Multifunctional Macromolecular Materials, or one of the various MRSEC Seed groups.
UW-Green Bay Director of Career Services, Linda Peacock-Landrum, initially notified Broman of the opportunity and provided support in the application process. Associate Prof. Mich McIntire (Natural and Applied Sciences) wrote a letter of recommendation.
“It was a very positive learning environment,” Broman said. “I learned a lot by talking with my graduate student mentor. I made mistakes every once in a while of course, but that was an important way that I learned.”
Broman said that his initial feelings of apprehension had to do with simply not knowing what to expect.
“I soon found out that with I did know was very applicable. A lot of what I learning in Organic Chemistry I and II went hand-in-hand with polymerization (a process of reacting monomer molecules together in a chemical reaction to form polymer chains or three-dimensional networks).
Outside of the research lab, the REU program places a high emphasis on showing undergraduates the options that they have after graduation through panels, field trips, seminars and networking. Through this program, Broman says he has made great professional connections and learned that he wants to attend the University of Minnesota to get his Ph.D in Material Science after he graduates in 2019.
“Experiences will vary for each individual of course, but a program this good is really hard to downgrade,” he said. “I recommend this to all Science Technology Engineering Mathematics (STEM) students, you just have to find the right program for you.”
Story by Marketing and Marketing and University Communication intern Amanda Rice
Photo by Dan Moore, Marketing and University Communication