Chemistry student earns admission to national laboratory program

April 10, 2018

Written by Jeff Angileri   |  Photos by Craig Schreiner

Katherine and Hepsi in laboratoryEvery time she immerses in a chemistry experiment in Upham Hall, Katherine Ceschi feels like she enters another world.

"I love exploring, and chemistry is everywhere. Everything we do and touch involves some form of chemistry."

Ceschi, a senior chemistry major from Walworth, Wisconsin, has been conducting undergraduate research in the laboratory of Professor Hephzibah Kumpaty.

Their experiments involve building new, medicinally active molecules with a focus on finding unique methods that are environmentally friendly, sustainable and economical.

"We not only teach students about chemistry theory and best practices, but hands-on-immersion in the laboratory where students learn the techniques of reaction set-up, execution, work-up, purification and identification of products using sophisticated instruments," Kumpaty said. "Gaining laboratory skills — using industry-quality technology and equipment — is part of what makes the UW-Whitewater science experience special, and gives students a competitive edge."

Katherine at NMR machineCeschi, who transferred to the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater from another university, can attest to that. Her experience has helped her garner the national Chemical Technology Student Award from the American Chemical Society.

"The facilities here are outstanding and the faculty are always there for me, whether it's in the classroom or outside of class," she said. "They know every student by name. They care. They love what they do. It's really important."

After she graduates in May with a bachelor's degree, Ceschi will study for six weeks at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York, where she will explore nuclear chemistry.

Only 24 students in the country were selected for this prestigious summer school program, which is funded by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy. Ceschi's travel, tuition and housing are covered as part of the package, and she will receive a $4,000 stipend.

"This experience at this world-class institution should prepare her for an exciting journey upon graduation, whether she pursues graduate school or a job in the industry," Kumpaty said.