These scholarships will give Van Winkle a significant advance in her research.
“Essentially, I’ll be self-employed, and I’ll have the independence to do the research I want to do. I’ll be able to work with the professor whose research I’m interested in — even one who doesn’t have funding for their work — because I’ll carry my own funding for the research.”
At Berkeley, Van Winkle will continue to study materials chemistry. That is, she’ll use chemistry to design and synthesize materials with potentially useful characteristics, like magnetic, optical, structural or catalytic properties.
In a sense, she’ll continue some of the work she started here, where her research with Reczek explored the optical and electrical properties of liquid crystals in a film of molecules. They used a laser, similar to what you would find in a DVD recorder, to align crystals and control their optical properties.
Van Winkle is grateful for the opportunities she’s had at Denison. “Not many undergraduate students get to help develop a theory, test the mechanics behind the research, and create the illustration figures for an article — and then have it published in such a prestigious journal,” she says.
“I was initially drawn to Dr. Reczek’s project because of its potential applications for solar energy. And he’s been so supportive, giving me ideas, but supporting my independence,” says Van Winkle. “He’s been a wonderful guide and a very good mentor.”