Rachel Warnock

Rising Senior
Biological Sciences, Virginia Tech
CEINT Research Sites: Dr. Mark Wiesner and Dr. Ben Colman’s labs, Duke University

The CEINT REU program allowed me to experience research at the intersection of life sciences and nanoscience. Investigating implications of nanotechnology in realistic environmental settings awoke a passion for research that extends beyond “knowledge for knowledge’s sake.” Although my project focused on the specific area of plant uptake of nanoparticles, the coordinators of this REU made it a priority to teach us about other projects and focuses within the CEINT program. In addition to a weeklong orientation included lectures from many distinguished researchers, interns met with mentors for coffee every week to discuss problems, goals and plans. These efforts fostered an environment that allowed exploration in all areas and a high level of collaboration. The mentors of the CEINT program were a substantial piece of what made this experience successful. I worked directly with an amazing graduate student, who showed me an accurate depiction of everyday life in graduate school, which was an invaluable experience. Overall, I would not trade my personal growth in research and communication skills, or the connections and friendships made during this program for the world!

Career impacts

This research experience has exposed me to a variety of options within the fields of life science and nanoscience. It showed me a glimpse of what life as a graduate student will look like, but also provided several other career options. For example, touring the EPA in Research Triangle Park showed an applicable career option in nanotechnology and the environment. Currently, I am considering graduate school or working in consulting after graduation. I plan to pursue my PhD, but am still exploring my options for the near future.