Knox alumna Mrinalini Chakraborty '12, national field coordinator for the Women’s March, was recently intervi...
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Major in Chemistry, Minors in BioChemistry and Economics
What motivated you to become a McNair Scholar?
It began with one word—opportunity. The opportunity to garner skills not only for graduate school, but also for a career in the sciences. I believed that the abundant opportunities from the McNair program would extend past the realms of academic development to accommodate for the heavy competition in the workforce or in graduate school. McNair provides students with resources for well-rounded development.
Describe your research. What inspired you to pursue this project?
Under the supervision of professor of chemistry Thomas Clayton, I will focus on synthesizing an unconventional type of liquid crystals, and then assessing their range of thermal stability. These compounds are known as heteroleptic branched copper dimers and are virtually unknown in the science community. I became inspired to pursue this project because I wanted to investigate something that would be worthwhile to the science community and aid in formulating an Honors thesis.
What Knox resources, such as professors, immersive programs, or independent studies, might've influenced or assisted this project?
I attribute much of my success to all the tutoring resources such as the TRIO Achievement Program and the Red Room. Also, to all my professors who have given me their undivided attention during office hours to explain a concept from a different perspective or give advice on academic progression.
What are your future plans? How will your project help you to achieve those plans?
In the near future I plan to continue building on my summer research project to do an Honor's Thesis. My current project will help me comprehend the subtle but complex interactions that occur as the dimer or compound is formed to propose alternative ligands that could change its range of thermal stability. Furthermore, my project has given me the necessary tools to conduct research, analyze accumulated data and suggest novel ideas.
What has been your most memorable experience at Knox?
Inorganic Chemistry (CHEM 215) has been a memorable course at Knox; I developed a sense of intuitiveness for concepts that was difficult to comprehend. The professor did an outstanding job in giving real world applications on topics of discussion to cement a deep rooted understanding. Rather than memorize which elements are likely to be insulators or semiconductors, I was encouraged to decide on plausible responses based on the chemical nature of the elements involved. In return, I'm able to not only comprehend which answer is correct but also be able to explain my reasoning with confidence. Since then I've been impressed with how much can be explained and created with the use of science.
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