Student shows passion for research

Katie Rosenthal protects her hands from powdered chemicals in the physics room of Mainiero Hall earlier this month. Rosenthal, a junior chemistry major, returned from her 10 week summer internship at the end of the summer. The internship took place at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs where her work related to carbon nanotubes and physical chemistry. / photo by Helen Arase
Katie Rosenthal protects her hands from powdered chemicals in the physics room of Mainiero Hall earlier this month. Rosenthal, a junior chemistry major, returned from her 10 week summer internship at the end of the summer. The internship took place at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs where her work related to carbon nanotubes and physical chemistry. / photo by Helen Arase

Gabriella Chikhani
Staff Writer

Being the youngest member of a research group might intimidate some people, but for Katie Rosenthal, junior chemistry major, this minor detail only motivated her to keep working toward her personal goal as a scientist.

Rosenthal spent 10 weeks over the summer as a paid intern at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs.

She was encouraged by her adviser, Iraj Parchamazad, to apply for an internship with the Research Experience for Undergraduate program and found a research project revolving around her passion, renewable energy.

Rosenthal worked in the Tvrdy group, named after their group leader, Kevin Tvrdy. Together the group of four conducted physical chemistry research.

“I want to leave the world a better place than when I started,” Rosenthal said.

Inspiration and support from her family, professors and sisters of Iota Delta sorority have played a major role in Rosenthal’s accomplishments.

Up until her junior year of high school the aspiring scientist had wanted to be an author but that all changed after she took a creative writing class.

“I realized that it would take me hours to come up with something that someone else could bust out in 10 minutes,” Rosenthal said.

This was the starting point of her passion for environmental science. Rosenthal praised her high school science teacher, crediting her with being the one who opened her eyes to how our environment was suffering.

Rosenthal said her love for the environment was confirmed by her experience in Colorado. Ricardo Morales, associate professor of chemistry, recommended Rosenthal and worked with the up and coming scientist during her time as a teaching assistant in the chemistry department.

“She’s always willing to learn a little bit more and she doesn’t want to just know the theory or the knowledge, she wants to know how to apply it in other aspects,” Morales said.

The Tvrdy group researched the properties of carbon nanotubes, which are carbon tubes that have vital properties for optics, nanotechnology and more. They looked into exactly how long it takes for nanotubes to bundle together. Rosenthal believes that once this is achieved these stronger than steel properties can be used for solar purposes.

“Developing a sense for what the steps are that you need to take to accomplish a problem, scientific or not, was the biggest takeaway I got,” Rosenthal said.

Pattie Rosenthal, Katie’s mother, said Katie started to show interest in the sciences during her middle school years, and that she always excelled in her classes.

Rosenthal can often be found listening to Young the Giant as she continues her work on nanotubes research in the Honors Center.

She is still working with the Tvrdy group as she goes through her junior year. The group members stay in contact through e-mail so that their research can continue. Rosenthal said that they will most likely be published upon completion of their work.

Gabriella Chikhani can be reached at gabriella.chikhani@laverne.edu.

Helen Arase

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