Knox alumna Mrinalini Chakraborty '12, national field coordinator for the Women’s March, was recently intervi...
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Major in Chemistry, Minor in Biochemistry
What motivated you to become a McNair Scholar?
My motivation was sparked from a high interest in the chemistry field. I'm really interested in becoming a chemist or professor. To get ahead in those fields, summer research will help. It's also a great time to gain experience in the field and allow me to solidify my future interests. My research is branched off of my mentor Thomas Clayton's work. He began the project in the mid 90s and has been able to produce a great procedure since then. The main goal of the project is to create good liquid crystals around room temperature. A good liquid crystal can be determined by its ability to be fluid, and its ability to polarize light. This means that it turns random rays of light into ordered rays of light that have the ability to show different color. My inspiration to pursue this project came from seeing what it means to polarize light from liquid crystals. Some of these products create very appealing images.
What Knox resources might've influenced or assisted this project?
The McNair program first aided in choosing the project that would be best fit for the summer research. They allowed us to become experts on our field so the summer ran smoothly. Not only that, but they offered assistance in putting together a presentable proposal. To further steer us in the correct path, an independent study was offered for other participants. For me, Inorganic Chemistry (CHEM 215) was enough to understand the project. Another aspect is my mentor. He has been able to revise my work and provide insight on how to create a publishable paper. Although I haven't yet been able to actually write up the paper, I have the tools available to create a successful paper because of the resources at hand.
What has been your most memorable experience at Knox?
My most memorable experience at Knox, in terms of research, is when adversity hit. Dissolving a specific salt can take up to a week for it to be fully dissolved, and even then it might not fully be finished. That delays the amount of time used to be hands on with the project. My mentor has come up with an alternate way to get around that problem. I followed through with the plan and it seemed to have worked while producing high yields. Being able to overcome a problem with success has been a great feeling.
What about Knox surprised you?
At first I was skeptical about Knox just because of growing up in a big city. There was always a side of me that enjoyed the quiet. Being at Knox helped me to realize that the city is too big and active for me, and I was able to understand myself more than I would have in a larger environment. On top of that, my interests have broadened. Coming in I was so set on majoring in biology, but that changed and allowed me to realize my interest in chemistry. That interest stacked and evolved into me wanting to pursue more hands on chemistry, like research. Knox has really molded my personality, too. Being the awkward introvert that I am, this environment has taught me how to handle that. In situations where I need to converse, I can hold a meaningful conversation. That's helped me become more social than I have ever been.
Malik Hamilton '19 is on the football team and track and field. He's also the president of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity. Hamilton is in the TRIO Achievement Program, a COAST Scholar, and McNair Scholar.
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