Alumni Profiles

Where has Chemistry taken you?

Catherine Borella figure skating for aesthetic purposes
Catherine, pictured center, UNH Synchronized Figure Skating Team

Choosing chemistry as my major in undergrad was one of the best yet most difficult decisions I have ever made. I knew going into my freshman year at UNH I wanted to someday attend pharmacy school and become a pharmacist. With that being my ultimate goal, I could have chosen many majors, that could have taken the academic burden off also taking the required prerequisites for pharmacy school admissions. General chemistry was a struggle for me, but at the closing of second semester, I said to myself "If I can survive organic chemistry, the most feared classes in the entire university, I can complete the degree." And after a year and half with an excellent, but now retired professor, I survived, and went on to complete the last two years of my degree. It continued to be a struggle, but I knew I could do it. Today, I am having the same feelings about attending Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in Worcester, MA in the fall of 2017. I recognize that there will be challenges, but the love for challenges and abstract learning is what made me the student I am today. 

In my time at UNH, I was a member of the UNH Synchronized Figure Skating Team, which practiced and competed all year round. My last two years as a student I also joined a second Synchronized Skating team in Boxborough, MA and was commuting at least once weekly to practice. I worked at Walgreens in Lee, NH as a pharmacy technician. Currently, I continue to work for Walgreens, in Massachusetts. I will be preparing for my next three years at MCPHS where I will get my PharmD, and someday soon help the community in a whole new way, as a healthcare professional. In the future, I plan to give back to the UNH community, and hope to inspire the upcoming freshman to not give up on their dreams. 

Joonhyung Cho Class of 2008 for aesthetic purposes

Mr. Joonhyung "Joon" Cho is an Industry Relations Officer at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has an extensive background in academic-industrial research partnership, technology transfer, and innovation management. In this role, Joon actively engages UNC faculty and the private sector in forming strategic corporate collaborations. Most recently, he led UNC’s technology development for managing a diverse portfolio of faculty technologies and startups in physical sciences. Before he joined UNC, he managed agricultural biotechnology intellectual property portfolios at Louisiana State University Agricultural Center.

Joonhyung graduated MS in 2008.

 

 

 

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Barry Powers Class of 2015

I have spent the past twenty months reflecting on my time at UNH, the experience and qualifications I gained and where I want to apply my focus from here. I constantly felt as though I was struggling in the B.S. program, particularly in the lab. However, should you succeed in graduating, you will start to notice opportunities revealing themselves to you every direction. I chose to join the Marine Corps, because it had been in the back of my mind since elementary school and I knew if I didn't do it after graduation it would remain an unfulfilled dream. I am fortunate to have this time - until the end of my contract - to plan my next move and my biggest complaint is that there are too many options! If any of you share my plight finding a direction to aim your degree at, I would like to remind you that taking any job will start clocking chemistry-related job experience and it is never too late to make a career shift.

Currently, I serve as an internal auditor at Marine Corps Special Operation Command. This is clearly unrelated to chemistry, but has given me the opportunity to evaluate what is important to me. This organization advocates self-improvement and the pursuit of perfection in every aspect of one's life. From image to intelligence to strength and endurance, everything has the potential to be improved upon. I have never been one for philosophy (one of my least favorite courses at UNH), but I find this one rewarding, especially because this pursuit is never performed alone. I enjoy working with equally driven colleagues, though we have very different strengths. My strength is my ability to learn. Nothing has been as mentally stimulating as chemistry and although you may feel burnt at both ends by the end of your four (or five) years, there is a unique satisfaction gained from overcoming cognitive obstacles. That is what I miss from chemistry and serves as the basis for my future goals. 
I am in the middle of constructing my graduate school application and hope to land a mid-level lab management job after leaving the service. This type of position will certainly possess the intellectual challenge I miss and include the responsibility and teamwork characteristics I currently enjoy in the Marine Corps. As my academic advisor, Dr. Pazicni knows too well how I scoffed at the idea of more schooling at the end of my time at UNH. But, somehow through all of this reflection and evaluation, I found that this is simply the next hurdle on the way to my new-found career goals. It took me a lot of time to define my passion behind chemistry and identify a corresponding career that also considers my professional values. The better you can define these values for yourselves, the easier it will be for you to find the "right" career. Good luck and congratulations on your accomplishments thus far! 

-Barry Powers

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Samantha and Nick Class of 2010

Samantha always knew she wanted to be a teacher when studying chemistry at UNH. Right after graduating, she obtained her Statement of Eligibility to teach in New Hampshire and has been doing so ever since. She is currently a chemistry teacher at Nashua High School North where she has been working since 2011. She has earned her Master in Education in Administration from UMass Lowell, and is currently in a program through UNH Manchester to get certification in ESOL education. She is in her second year as Department Head at North and loves interacting with her students and coworkers every day.

Nick went to MIT after graduating and earned his Masters in Organic Chemistry in 2012. After serving as a scientist in drug discovery at ARIAD Pharmaceuticals, he began to appreciate and transitioned into intellectual property at ARIAD. After starting in the night program at Suffolk Law while at ARIAD, he moved to the intellectual property law firm of Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP. Since starting at Finnegan, he has gained experience in patent prosecution and litigation matters in a variety of technologies including pharmaceuticals, nanoparticle formulations, polymers, fuel cell technology, and biomedical devices. Nick anticipates graduating from Suffolk in December, 2017. Nick feels that the rigor, depth, and breadth of the UNH chemistry program prepared him well for the challenges of graduate school, drug discovery, and the legal matters he works on now. 

Nick and Sam met as chemistry students in the old organic teaching labs in Parsons and after many years of friendship, they started dating two days before graduation in 2010. After many years, Sam and Nick tied the knot in August, 2016. They fondly look back on their time at UNH, specifically the bonds they shared and people they met during all the many hours in labs, lectures, and the chemistry library. They have continued contact with current members of the Boston Professional Chapter of Alpha Chi Sigma with whom they were brothers in Mu chapter at UNH as undergrads. They currently live in Saugus, MA with their cat Pewter and their dog Lily.

Nick and Sam Bencivenga

Photo of Alex Jacobine for aesthetic purposes
Alex Jacobine Class of 2010

Being a graduate student at the University of New Hampshire was truly a unique experience. Professor Zercher was a great mentor both in the lab and out. The entire faculty was incredibly knowledgeable in the field of chemistry but what was more important was their willingness and desire to teach the students and prepare them for the future. The faculty and staff felt like family which made the entire graduate school experience much more enjoyable. I have a lot of positive memories from my days at Parsons Hall and I will always remember the five years I spent there training to become a scientist.

After graduate school I joined the laboratory of Professor Gary Posner at Johns Hopkins University as a postdoctoral fellow learning medicinal chemistry while synthesizing antimalarials for animal studies. After two and a half years working under the guidance of Professor Posner I worked as a postdoctoral fellow at Merck & Co., Inc. in West Point, Pennsylvania. My research at Merck was a collaborative effort between the Medicinal Chemistry and Imaging departments trying to develop radioactive diagnostic markers for PET imaging.

Since my academic and industrial postdoc’s, I have joined Johnson Matthey Pharmaceutical Services in Devens, MA and have been working there for two years as a process chemist. I started working on small-scale process and have since transitioned into working in the kilo labs where I am part of a team that produces kilograms of active pharmaceutical ingredients for clinical trials for a number of companies throughout the area.

Each job I have had since my time at the UNH has been quite different from the rest and I think that UNH prepared me to be able to quickly and efficiently shift from one job to the next. Not only did I learn a lot about the specific research I was doing in the Zercher group but I learned how to critically think as a scientist and learn new chemistry and techniques quickly. The faculty and staff at UNH played an integral role in this development and have helped me get to where I am today.

-Alex Jacobine