Chemistry

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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/

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One response to “Chemistry

  1. Woohoo Congrats! 😀
    unlike myself barely going to get my bachelors in chemistry this fall

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