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Bold Woman of the Month

Catherine Romero is an undergraduate BWIC member and a Junior majoring in chemistry from Dickinson, TX. She has been doing research in the Humphrey group at UT since Spring 2018 where she develops and characterizes novel metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) classified as Phosphine and Arsine Coordination Materials (PCMs/ACMs). The MOFs are multi-dimensional, crystalline materials that have a free phosphine or arsine site for post-synthetic metallation. These materials are being studied for their potential use in gas storage, separation, and catalysis applications. She recently returned from a 9-week REU program at the University of Washington (UW) in Seattle where she worked under Dr. Alexandra Velian on the self-assembly of functionalized metal-chalcogenide clusters.

Catherine (top left) and the Velian group celebrating the lab’s 2nd anniversary. Her REU mentor was Ben Mitchell (bottom, 2nd from the left), and she also worked closely with Jon Kephart (bottom, 1st on the left). Dr. Alexandra Velian, her PI, is the 3rd from the right.

The Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program is an NSF-funded opportunity for undergraduates to work in a new lab setting over the summer, and Catherine was placed in the lab of Alexandra Velian at UW. The Velian lab uses redox active Co6Se8 clusters as supports for heterogeneous catalysis, and Catherine’s project was to use the aminophosphine capped, tri-metallated version of the Co6Se8 clusters to create an extended MOF-type material.

Top left: Catherine in the glovebox setting up crystallizations under inert atmosphere, middle left: Catherine pulling the solvent off her reaction under vacuum on the Schlenk line, bottom left: Catherine with her BWIC vision board, and right: Catherine preparing NMR samples.

While her time in the lab was an impactful experience, outside the lab she also got to enjoy a cool 70° summer and see the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

Left: The view of Mt. Rainier from UW campus, middle: Catherine at Pike Place Market doing some late night exploring with friends from the lab, right: a view of the mountains from her campsite on one of the weekends she was out of the lab.

“Research for me is about being a part of the broader scientific community that strives to answer the big questions and make our lives better through science. I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to work in a new research setting this summer in Seattle because it has helped shape my vision of what I want out of my future graduate school program.” -- Catherine

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