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Kristen Gardner, UNC '19


Kristen
Gardner

Cohort 3

Hometown: Charlotte, NC

Major: Chemistry

Research Interest: Small molecule synthesis



I know that I want to mentor students, and CSS provided and encouraged a lot of mentoring opportunities that helped me gain experience early.




GRADUATE/PROFESSIONAL SCHOOL:

University of California, Berkeley (PhD, Chemistry)


WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE GOALS?

I’m not sure. I want to continue doing research and am interested in small molecule synthesis in the pharmaceutical industry, but I am also interested in becoming a research professor, as I love to teach and mentor younger students. I am excited to explore these career paths during graduate school.


WHAT DREW YOU TO THE CSS PROGRAM?

Truthfully, my parents made me apply because it was scholarship money and science. I had no idea what research was when I applied or even when I joined the program. But as a student who wasn’t sure I could do chemistry at Carolina, knowing I would have a support group and so many resources from Day 1 was so appealing. And this program truthfully was the best thing I have been a part of. There is so much support and a big group of students who are like-minded, as well as seemingly infinite resources. This program introduced me to so many opportunities–which yes, I then had to go apply for in order to pursue–that I wouldn’t have even known about without CSS.


WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE CSS EXPERIENCE OR MEMORY?

The Cohort Classic our junior year was really fun because our cohort came together, and our competitive nature came out and we kicked butt. But also, it was just really fun to see so many of us come together and have fun.


HOW HAS CSS SHAPED YOUR CAREER GOALS?

I had no idea what research was when I joined CSS. This program exposed me to research during Summer EXCELerator before I started my first year. I’m sure I would have been drawn to research over medical school at some point, but it would not have been nearly as early and I would not have started doing research, going to conferences, etc. as early and would not have been in the position I was when applying to graduate school. I also know that I want to mentor students, and CSS provided and encouraged a lot of mentoring opportunities that helped me gain experience early.


WHAT IS YOUR PRIMARY RESEARCH INTEREST?

Synthetic inorganic chemistry exploring cation-controlled catalysis (how we could turn a catalyst on and off using a cation) with Dr. Alexander Miller.


AWARDS AND HONORS

  • NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program, Winner (2020)
  • NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program, Honorable Mention (2019)
  • Francis P. Venable Medal (2019)
  • Jason D. Altom Memorial Award for Undergraduate Research (2018)
  • SACNAS Conference Research Presentation Award (2017 and 2018)
  • Younger Chemists Committee (YCC) Leadership Development Award
  • American Chemical Society Undergraduate Award in Inorganic Chemistry
  • ABRCMS Poster Presentation Award and Full Travel Award (2016)
  • American Chemical Society (ACS) Student Exchange Award (awarded twice)