The Erlenmeyer Flask






         Where Real Chemistry Happens…

November 30, 2016

Undergraduate of the Quarter – Fall 2016 – Jason Sandwisch

Chemistry Major, Jason Sandwisch, the newest Fall 2016 Undergraduate of the Quarter recently sat down with Department Chair, Rich Carter to discuss what brought him to OSU, his favorite parts of the program and his plans for the future.

Jason was born in Vancouver, Washington. He then moved briefly to Colorado with his parents, but ultimately grew up in the small town of Banks, Oregon. He attended Liberty High School where he immersed himself in the sciences with the help of his freshmen biology teacher and swim coach Paul Hanson. Hanson would go on and recruit Jason to the swim team, where he spent the next four years competing.

Jason was very enthusiastic about biology and others sciences.  He decided to pursue a Chemistry Major coming out of high school because of his senior year AP chemistry course.  The class was small which resulted in a good amount of student/teacher interaction.  The class focused mainly on class work and book work, but not a lot of time was spent doing laboratory work.  Due to the lack of lab experience in high school, he decided a university with a good undergraduate research would be important for his educational goals.

While attending an Oregon State Fall Preview, Jason was impressed by how many people spoke to him about undergraduate research.  He was already leaning toward matriculating here as his brother also attended OSU.  “It’s nice to know someone where you’re going.”  During Jason’s first term, Dr. Neal Sleszynski mentored him and suggested that he pursue the URSA Engage undergraduate research grant, which led him to conduct research for Dr. Kenneth Hedberg. Throughout this experience, he studied gas phase electron diffraction on 1,1,3,3-tetramethylcyclobutane. More recently, he studies spiropentane alongside Dr. Joseph Nibler and his undergraduate researcher, Blake Erickson (Winter 2016 UGQ).

During the summer of 2015, Jason also did research in Dr. John Simonsen’s lab in the College of Forestry. He worked with Johnny Hergert (Fall 2015 UGQ), conducting research on new polymer blends using cellulose nanocrystals.  Other research projects with Prof. John Simonsen included Jason working for a local start-up called EcNow Tech. Here, Jason helped develop plant-based plastic material. His favorite part of all his various research has been being able to apply physical chemistry principles and problems solving aspects. “I took physical chemistry last year and before that I was working with all these experimental instruments such as FTIR, but never realized the basis for how they actually worked.”

Jason says he doesn’t have a favorite professor, “I enjoyed all my chemistry classes.” Overall, he really enjoyed taking Organic Chemistry from both Dr. Paul Blakemore and Dr. Chris Beaudry. He also loved the challenge of CH 464, taught by Dr. Chong Fang.  His favorite class was CH 421 – Analytical Chemistry taught by Dr. Sean Burrows.  “He’s just a great person.  He was funny, understanding and really wanted you to learn the material.  He didn’t make it hard, but stressed the important points.  Being taught Analytical chemistry by him was an awesome experience.”

After graduation, Jason wants to pursue a Ph.D. in physical chemistry by studying excited state chemistry. He is interested in the University of Washington due to the broad selection of potential faculty focused in his area of interest.  He is also excited about the wide array of options that are available to him after graduate school. His summer internship with EcNow Tech really opened his eyes to what’s available after school. “At this point, I’m unsure about my specific career path, but four years ago I wasn’t sure about my major I just want to go to graduate school and then find my path.”

Students like Jason are a huge part of what makes our Department so great.  We wish him well with graduation, graduate school and beyond.

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