Blog & Events

My Experience as a GLUE Mentee

March 25, 2013

By Genevieve Lim, Sophomore Chemical Engineering student

Picture of Genevieve Lim and 2 other students working around a table in a research labDuring my sophomore year, my interest in research heightened; however, I was hesitant to ask professors about their research and felt I was not ready to commit to working in a professor’s lab. I wanted an introduction to undergraduate research.  I decided to apply to the WEP Graduates Linked with Undergraduates in Engineering (GLUE) program to explore the applications of engineering in research.  I hoped to gain a better understanding of research and assess if it was something I would consider as a career.

I was a GLUE participant during the Spring Semester of my sophomore year. I conducted research at the Schmidt Polymer Laboratory in the Biomedical Engineering building, where I went for three hours every Tuesdays and Thursdays. I worked with my GLUE graduate mentor, Craig, and another undergraduate student, Lea.

My GLUE research involved assisting Craig and Lea in synthesizing separation membranes using conductive polymers and optimizing the ion transport through them. I electrochemically synthesized polymer films using a three-electrode system and a reduction/oxidation process. We took different types of monomers with known conductive properties, such as pyrrole and aniline, and combined them with dopants that acted as counter ions to the polymer film. We synthesized the films on conductive glass slides using a three-electrode system. The electrodes were submerged into conductive monomer and dopant and connected to a potentiostat, which supplied the current that initiated the reduction/oxidation. We gathered data and observed the effects of varying techniques, solution types, or dopant concentrations. Craig would work with us in the lab, supervise, explain concepts, and help during the experiments.

Although now I can describe the research work, I started with no inkling of what he was talking about when he introduced his work to me. A primary challenge I had to overcome was reading the scientific journals prior to starting research. Craig gave me several articles about conductive polymers, electropolymerization, and its applications. They were lengthy and contained esoteric topics that I was vaguely familiar with or had not seen entirely. Fortunately, Craig encouraged a lot of questions and was patient in explaining them. It was also beneficial that he was working toward a Chemical Engineering Ph.D., as he knew how to connect these concepts to my classes. Craig helped a great deal in understanding concepts, creating my presentation and poster, and making sure I explained information correctly and effectively.

Two aspects of the program that were exciting and helpful were the posters and presentations. All the research topics of my fellow GLUE participants were intriguing, and the presentations provided insight on how vast and diverse the research is at UT. I thought creating a research poster and competing at the PEERS Poster Exhibition were extremely valuable. I was ecstatic to see the final product and was proud of what I accomplished since the beginning of the semester. Informing other students and professors about my work helped me become a better public speaker and presenter. Answering their questions about my topic at symposium not only tested my knowledge of my work but also allowed me to practice explaining concepts clearly and to communicate information effectively.

Overall, my experience in the GLUE program was rewarding and enjoyable. I was grateful and lucky to have an excellent mentor and an engaging research topic. I earnestly recommend the program to anyone who wants to discover the realm of research!

Genevieve Lim is a junior Chemical Engineering student.  Her GLUE Research Project was entitled," Synthesis and Manipulation of Conducting Polymers, Particularly Polypyrrole."