Christina Chau '16 Wins Chemistry Award

May 18, 2016

Christina Chau

We chatted with Christina about graduating on Friday — and winning the American Institute of Chemists Award in Chemistry!

What are you getting your degree in?

Biochemistry with a minor in marketing.

What made you choose your program at Simmons?

I’ve always had a fascination with science because it's always changing and advancing. I’ll never find myself learning everything there is about science, there's always more. 

Entering Simmons, I originally planned to major in biology — but I found chemistry intriguing too. Thus, I decided to major in biochemistry, the best of both worlds integrated into one.

You recently presented at the Undergraduate Symposium! Tell us about your research.

My research was the Standardization and Characterization of 1:8 VBT:VBA Copolymer using Gel Permeation Chromatography. In not-so-scientific terms, I successfully standardized the method to synthesize a biosynthetic copolymer. Our copolymer has shown great potential in a variety of applications like hair curling and as an antimicrobial coating.

However, we encountered poor reproducibility in yield and inconsistency in molecular weight issues. My research was focused on improving the copolymer yield, making sure it was reproducible, and ensuring that the molecular weights were consistent.

What was it like winning the American Institute of Chemists Award in Chemistry?

It was super rewarding! I was very humbled that my advisor nominated me. I definitely feel motivated to pursue a professional career in chemistry.

What advice would you give to students considering studying STEM?

It may get hard and challenging at times — but keep going! The path you plan may not always be the path you take. The universe has incredible ways to get you where you need to be. Believe in yourself, have confidence and be passionate!

What are you most excited for at graduation?

For my family to see me walk across the stage at graduation. I’m actually the first in my family to receive a college degree! My parents immigrated to the U.S. at a young age and instead of going to school, they worked at multiple jobs so that I could go to school. They’ve waited so long to see me graduate, I hope I make them proud!

What's the best advice you received while at Simmons?

Always be kind. Kindness is a beautiful thing and can go a long way. With all that occurs around the world, kindness can bring people together and make an everlasting impact.

What's your Simmons Moment?

Being awarded the Outstanding Teacher Assistant Award. After taking organic chemistry my first year, I became a lab TA the next semester. I remember barely understanding the chemistry stockroom, stumbling across words to teach students how to use certain instruments and fearful that I wasn’t fit to be a TA. For the following semesters in my undergraduate career, I continued being an organic chemistry lab TA. With each semester, I found myself improving. I know exactly where the volumetric flasks are in the stockroom, I have my instrument teaching lecture memorized and now I have the Outstanding Teacher Assistant Award. 

I love Simmons for not only allowing me to use these scientific instruments, but also learn how to mentor others and pass down my knowledge.