Summer of Science

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Last summer, David Espinoza ’16 was busy fabricating new medicinal compounds and evaluating their reactions to tumor cells. “We were synthesizing and characterizing metal complexes in hopes of discovering one that can be used in emerging forms of chemotherapy,” said Espinoza, who was selected to participate in the Summer Science Research program, a valuable, hands-on opportunity funded by generous supporters, like Rich ’52 and Ginnie ’52 Hunsaker. “We are particularly interested in photodynamic therapy, a chemotherapy treatment that can be used to attack cancer cells directly instead of affecting the body as a whole.”

The summer program allows students to work alongside a professor and experience the full spectrum of research trial and error. Espinoza worked under the tutelage of Chemistry Professor Henry Acquaye in the University’s Hedco labs. “The most surprising aspect of the experience is that you are thrown into research on day one,” said Espinoza. “And the most satisfying aspect is just how much I was able to learn and how independent I became in the lab.”

Majoring in both biochemistry and mathematics with a minor in psychology, Espinoza’s academic career is a busy one, but he has big plans for his future. With a 3.9 GPA, he has continued his summer’s research into the academic year and will write and defend a lengthy paper for his honors capstone project. He plans to pursue both medical school and a Ph.D. degree after he graduates from Redlands, and he’s exploring the possibility of careers in medicine and research. “This program is a great foundation for a career as a scientist,” he said. “Because of this experience, I question things more and am no longer afraid to do so. It’s made me a much better student, because I want to know as much as possible and to grasp any given concept in its entirety.”

His considerable time in the lab has proved instructive in both science and in life lessons, he said. “As a researcher, you must create your own questions and methods, because no one is going to come up with them for you. You have to use all of the skills you’ve learned to survive.”

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