Grad Student Receives NSF Fellowship for Summer Research in China

Douglas Smith will be traveling to Beijing this summer, courtesy of the National Science Foundation East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes.

Smith, who is earning his MS in Chemistry, received the EAPSI fellowship to conduct research at Beijing Technological University. The fellowships support research in several countries around the Pacific Rim, but Smith was drawn to China in particular.

“Since my adviser and most of my lab mates are from China, I thought, if they are making the effort to be here in the US, I should try and go over there and walk a mile in their shoes,” he said.

EAPSI fellowships give graduate students first-hand research experience outside the US; an introduction to the host nation’s science, science policy, and scientific infrastructure; and an orientation to the culture and language. NSF’s aim is to prepare researchers for international collaborations early in their careers, thus ensuring a globally aware US scientific workforce.

Smith started his research career as an undergraduate, working with Assistant Professor Lanrong Bi (Chemistry). After he completed his BS in Pharmaceutical Chemistry, she continued as his advisor.

In China, Smith will be furthering studies on a series of new fluorescent dyes that can detect changes in the pH of organelles–minute structures within cells involved many physiological processes. Changes in pH can serve as an early warning system for disease, and the dyes can also help scientists understand the inner workings of cells.

Smith’s research has been expedited by the confocal microscope the University acquired in December. It uses lasers and high-end optics to take 3D images of cells, tissue and nanomaterials without destroying samples. “I feel that the Olympus confocal microscope was key to generate the important preliminary results for applying the EAPSI fellowship,” he said.

Bi agreed. “Doug has done excellent work, and he is highly deserving of this fellowship,” said Bi. “Having access to this equipment has helped him–and our entire team–to be much more productive. All the members of our team are grateful to each of the units that helped fund the microscope, especially the College of Sciences and Arts, which spearheaded the purchase.”

Published in Tech Today


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