UWF student to intern with the Department of Energy
Pensacola native and University of West Florida chemistry student Luther McDonald is getting the opportunity to explore the west coast, after receiving a prestigious internship with the Department of Energy (DOE) in Washington. McDonald is anxious for the adventure ahead and grateful for the thorough preparation he's received from the UWF Chemistry Department.
Pensacola native and University of West Florida chemistry student Luther McDonald is getting the opportunity to explore the west coast, after receiving a prestigious internship with the Department of Energy (DOE) in Washington. McDonald is anxious for the adventure ahead and grateful for the thorough preparation he’s received from the UWF Chemistry Department.
“I’m incredibly honored to get the chance to work for the DOE,” said McDonald. “I feel like this opportunity will help me learn more aspects of chemistry that I haven’t explored yet and become a more diverse person.”
The DOE Office of Science funds the Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship program at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The paid internship provides 10 to 16 weeks of summer or semester research to undergraduate students in the areas of science, math and engineering, technology, and science policy. McDonald will begin his internship in January and will work for 16 weeks with DOE laboratory staff scientist, Steven Goheen, who received an Outstanding Mentor Award in 2008.
McDonald will work with Goheen on the project “Investigations into Mechanisms of Pest Infestations Using Analytical Chemistry.” They will examine roots of plants for common chemical components to help solve significant agricultural pest problems.
“I don’t know if I would have had this opportunity if it wasn’t for UWF’s Chemistry Department faculty,” said McDonald. “I think that UWF has one of the best sets of chemistry faculty in the country and we can compete with any university program.”
Through his various UWF research opportunities with Tim Royappa, associate professor of Chemistry, and Pam Vaughan, assistant professor of Chemistry, McDonald has been able to help develop and update lab protocols for “General Chemistry I” and “General Chemistry II” and participated in environmental research testing the toxicity of quinines, a group of lipid-soluble compounds. He currently is working with Royoppa testing polyglycidol in different environments like heat, oxygen and Ultraviolet (UV) light to better understand its chemical and solubility properties.
“Initially I thought I wanted to go to medical school,” said McDonald. “When I got involved in chemistry and started to do research with Dr. Royappa, I realized that I truly enjoyed it, and it was something that I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”
Learn more about UWF Chemistry at uwf.edu/chemistry.
By Megan Tyson, University Marketing Communications