Derek Muensterman has been named one of the Winter 2020 Undergraduates of the Quarter.

Derek is originally from Bend, Oregon and attended Summit High School. After high school, Derek took a break between high school and college. Instead, he went into the cannabis business which exposed him to hydrocarbon extractions and different types of reactions. The information he obtained originated from an open source provided by a community which inspired his passion for chemistry.

While attending community college and working full time, Derek originally wanted to be an Environmental Science. However, with no real end goal yet in site, he began fulfilling the Baccalaureate Core requirements. His work in the cannabis business helped solidify his passion to pursue chemistry.

As an Oregon native, Derek looked at Oregon State and University of Oregon for research opportunities in their STEM programs, ultimately deciding on OSU. Beginning at the endophyte lab, Derek was able to get his first OSU lab position. Using a letter of recommendation from Jennifer Duringer, he was able to move into a more research focused group, getting in touch with Craig Marcus. At the end of the physical year, Marcus extended his info to different research labs, connecting him to Jennifer Fields.

Derek now works in a research lab with Jennifer Fields finding trace contaminants PFAS on suits. These traces are used to address preoccupational exposure to PFAS before workers are even exposed to it.

In his spare time, Derek enjoys snowboarding, fly fishing, and skateboarding. His favorite novel is One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey. Derek enjoys eating Thai or Southern food however, his favorite food depends on his mood!

After graduation, Derek plans on attending graduate school to earn a PhD. Although it took Derek a while to get his foot in the door for research, being involved has inspired him to be more motivated with chemistry, developing his passion. He urges those who would like to pursue research to keep pushing forward as OSU is an incredible school for it!

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