Home » Aurora Hurtado Olivas - Research Experience at Notre Dame

Aurora Hurtado Olivas - Research Experience at Notre Dame

I am a senior here at the University of Arizona. I am double-majoring in Molecular and Cellular Biology as well as Biochemistry. My current ambition is to become a Chemistry teacher at the high school level while I fortify my resume and apply to medical school. Alongside my contribution as an educator, I want to encourage students, especially underrepresented minority students to pursue careers in STEM.

The highlight of my summer was being a part of a research group at the University of Notre Dame in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry under the guidance of Dr. Seth N. Brown. The heart of my research was to determine the mechanism to synthesize molecule the Os(ONO’)(ONS) as continuation of the work initially performed by Jacqueline Gianino, a graduate student that previously worked for Dr. Brown. To understand the mechanism, I synthesized a ligand complex similar to hers, but with a CF3 substituent, which was used as a marker to comprehend the osmium mediated carbon-sulfur bond cleavage in the reaction. My unsymmetrical ligand was then taken and reacted under various conditions to understand its chemical compositions, possible intermediates and preferred mechanisms when making the final product.

This research opportunity exposed many aspects of chemistry that I never thought possible. In learning new analytical methods and putting them to practice, I was able to better appreciate chemistry and more of its applications. Some examples of this are, growing my own crystals, collecting X-ray crystallography data, interpreting what seemed to be endless 2-dimensional NMR spectra. This also exposed me to the blind reality of research that is mostly guided by curiosity, faith and perseverance.

The graduate school research program at the University of Notre Dame also provided us with workshops and a GRE preparation course to allow us an opportunity to score more competitively giving us a greater change of acceptance when applying to graduate programs. We also had weekly presentations to enlighten us with various work opportunities and guidance towards a successful future. This summer journey allowed me to solidify my plans after graduation, which is to pursue a career in chemistry education and apply to medical school.