Greetings! I am currently in my first year as a computational chemist doctoral student at University of North Texas, where I am creating a database of various MOFs and am also learning to manage servers and super computers. I teach two labs a week and take several chemistry classes as well.
My love of chemistry started in high school, where I studied a chemistry textbook on my own and learned to understand the concepts. As an undergraduate, I chose physical chemistry, since I desired to get a math and physics minor as well. During my four years at LeTourneau University, I also served as a student instructor for general chemistry, a math lab instructor, and chief editor of the school newspaper, The YellowJacket.
The summer after my freshman year, I interned at IFS Industries, a glue manufacturer which had a branch in my hometown of West Chicago, IL. I learned how research in an industrial environment occurs, and gained experience working with multiple instruments. Most of all, I got a much broader overview of the design process of conventional consumer materials, from conceptualization to manufacturing to marketing.
The next summer, I stayed at LeTourneau University to participate in a Welch Grant to investigate methods for plating silicon wafers with gold. I gained proficiency in SEM as well as in experimental design.
Between my junior and senior year, I was awarded a fellowship with the Department of Energy / San Jose State University Nuclear Summer School in San Jose, CA. I spent six weeks with a dozen other students from across the country performing nuclear experiments, touring top research facilities, and meeting leaders in the nuclear industry. This opportunity gave me a very good overview of what research in academia is like.
Upon graduating from LeTourneau, I joined Arryx, a biotech startup firm in downtown Chicago. I enjoyed being right on Michigan Avenue and witnessing the excitement of city life! I also found that I relished the start-up atmosphere and the ability to work one-on-one with Ph.D. researchers. Our goal was to automate blood typing using a single instrument, and I researched ways to best prepare the samples. I even invented a multi-channel vacuum pump that the engineering side of my company produced for me, allowing me to work much faster!
I enjoyed Arryx immensely. When the company was closed due to financial reasons, I decided to extend my research credentials by attending graduate school. I always had an interest in nanotechnology, and I enrolled at Northern Illinois University under Dr. Narayan Hosmane. During the year and a half it took to complete my Master’s Degree, I taught at the lecture level and researched novel ways to synthesize boron nitride nanotubes and magnesium oxide nanocubes in a tube furnace. I discovered a technique to growing BNNTs on a novel substrate, and a very simple method to synthesize MgO nanocubes on a very large scale, with ultrahigh purities.
At NIU, I became interested in building a chemical database. First, I used Microsoft Access and Excel to store the data from my reactions. As my research became more involved, I discovered that I could write Visual Basic applications to search files, automatically create spectra from raw data, and analyze my data using any combination of variables. This allowed me to see trends I otherwise wouldn’t have realized.
Afterward, I decided to compliment my synthetic experience with theoretical underpinnings. I enrolled at University of North Texas in Fall 2013, and I hope to complete my doctoral degree in three years. My adviser is Dr. Angela Wilson, a respected expert in the computational chemistry field.
Once I graduate, I hope to find a similar start-up research environment to Arryx, one which would utilize my computational chemistry experience. In the mean time, I seek to expand my knowledge of chemistry, both by broadening my knowledge of the many subfields of the discipline and by specializing in chemical databases. I am always open to new ideas and opportunities and welcome messages from my “Contact” page! Also, my LinkedIn profile can be found at www.linkedin.com/in/dkuntz/