Getting to know graduate student Nick Pino

Date

04/03/20

A world traveler, photographer and musician, Nick Pino’s dream is to live in the big city, but it was the human connections that drew him to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to earn his PhD in chemistry, and it is those same personal connections that he says make this department unique.

A graduate student from the small town of Tyaskin, Maryland, near the Chesapeake Bay, Pino graduated from Cornell University with a BA in chemistry and chemical biology and decided to move “to the cornfields,” as he says, rather than the big city after making connections on the U. of I. campus during a summer Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) in mechanical engineering.

“For a variety of reasons, I’ve always wanted to live in large cities,” Pino said. “When I came here (for the REU), a lot of people remember me being very vocal about how I was going to Northwestern University, and I’d already made up my mind. The problem was that I actually really liked this department because of the people here. The research is fine, too, but our department is uniquely and distinctly social and supportive, especially between the students. So I ate my hat and came to the corn fields, knowing that even though it would be another five years away from the city, it was going to be a great time.”

Pino works in Professor Jefferson Chan’s lab, developing small molecule tools for both detection and donation of analytes in biological systems. He’s also been involved in some collaboration with other labs doing theranostic applications of nanoparticles in vivo.

Pino is also a member of the department’s Diversity Committee, a group of faculty, students, post-doctorate researchers, and staff who are trying to increase diversity in the department and provide resources for under-represented minorities.

“I really think some of the recommendations we’ve made have been meaningful,” Pino said, referencing some new recruiting and funding initiatives. “Due to recruiting practices that we’ve discussed in our meetings regarding minority-focused conferences and the St. Elmo Brady relationship with Historically Black Colleges and Universities, we’ve seen marked increases in racially diverse applicants. The next step is to illustrate our community as a healthy and welcoming one. If we can do that, I suspect we will be able to increase enrollment, ultimately moving toward demographic parity… There are so many reasons that we should have diverse communities. We should look around and acknowledge that everyone deserves the opportunity to do the great things we do.”

Although some of his personal interests have taken a back seat while working toward his PhD, like horse-back riding and playing the oboe and bassoon, he is found an outlet for his interest in business, working as a member of Illinois Business Consulting, an organization in the Gies College of Business that offers students real world experience in consulting.

“We have real clients with real problems, and they trust us to advise them on solutions,” Pino said. “In my two semesters in IBC, I’ve spent one as a consultant working on funding, branding, marketing, and organizational structure for a non-profit devoted to the empowerment of women in business, and I’ve spent one as the project manager leading a team illustrating the competitive landscape, conducting market needs assessment, and advising on product development for an InsurTech company.”

Mark down more traveling as a definite pursuit after Pino earns his doctorate. He has traveled to more than 31 countries already.

“It’s a personal goal to always keep that number higher than my age,” Pino said. “I also love photography which pairs well with the travel. I can also be found taking photos of flowers, squirrels, or whatever else I can find around campus. I keep saltwater fish, some of whom you can come see any time in 278 RAL if you need a break from research.”

Pino said he and his fellow graduate students have good camaraderie.

“We eat lunch together, we go to coffee together, we visit our friends’ labs to say ‘Hi,’ multiple times a day,” he said. “I won’t lie, science wouldn’t be as fun without the people I’ve chosen to surround myself with when I do it. After all, that’s why I came here.

In the future, Pino said he’s thinking about combining his love of chemistry and business.

“I’ll probably do some soul searching during #COVIDquarantine,” he said about his future career plans. “I’ve always been a fan of business. My dad is a business owner, and I’ve always been entrepreneurial of mind… A PhD teaches you a lot of things about a very specific topic. It also teaches you some techniques that are important to being able to do chemistry research. That said, my PhD is much less about how I’m going to spend the rest of my life making fluorescent HNO-responsive probes for the study of a fleeting reactive nitrogen species in biological systems. It’s more about how I developed the mental skills and capacity to solve problems and think about them fundamentally.”

 

Related People

jeffchan

Directory

scheelinAlexander
Scheeline
bjmccallBenjamin
McCall
r-gennisRobert
Gennis
j-gerltJohn
Gerlt
sgranickSteve
Granick
mgruebelMartin
Gruebele
hergenroPaul
Hergenrother
huangRaven
Huang
mlkraftMary
Kraft
leckbandDeborah
Leckband
yi-luYi
Lu
martinisSusan
Martinis
snairSatish
Nair
eoldfielEric
Oldfield
cmsCharles
Schroeder
zanZaida
Luthey-Schulten
selvinPaul
Selvin
sksScott
Silverman
s-sligarStephen
Sligar
tajkhorsEmad
Tajkhorshid
zhao5Huimin
Zhao
pbraunPaul
Braun
mdburkeMartin
Burke
jeffchanJefferson
Chan
sdenmarkScott
Denmark
dlottDana
Dlott
foutAlison
Fout
agewirthAndrew
Gewirth
ggirolamGregory
Girolami
sohirataSo
Hirata
jainPrashant
Jain
jkatzeneJohn
Katzenellenbogen
nmakriNancy
Makri
douglasmDouglas
Mitchell
jsmooreJeffrey
Moore
murphycjCatherine
Murphy
r-nuzzoRalph
Nuzzo
dimerPhilip
Phillips
rauchfuzThomas
Rauchfuss
joaquinrJoaquín
Rodríguez-López
sarlahDavid
Sarlah
kschweizKenneth
Schweizer
jsweedleJonathan
Sweedler
vddonkWilfred
van der Donk
renskeRenske
van der Veen
vuraweisJosh
Vura-Weis
mcwhite7M.
White
sczimmerSteven
Zimmerman
beakPeter
Beak
wklemperWalter
Klemperer
jdmcdonaJ.
McDonald
pogoreloTaras
Pogorelov
mshen233Mei
Shen
dewoonDavid
Woon
wboulangWilliam
Boulanger
rxbRohit
Bhargava
qchen20Qian
Chen
jianjuncJianjun
Cheng
hy66Hong
Yang
andinomaJosé
Andino Martinez
decosteDonald
DeCoste
thhuangTina
Huang
tjhummelThomas
Hummel
dkellDavid
Kell
doctorkMichael
Koerner
marvilleKelly
Marville
crrayChristian
Ray
tlbrownTheodore
Brown
rmcoatesRobert
Coates
thdjrThom
Dunning
dykstraClifford
Dykstra
j-jonasJiri
Jonas
j-lisyJames
Lisy
shapleyJohn
Shapley
pshapleyPatricia
Shapley
zumdahl2Steven
Zumdahl
ksuslickKenneth
Suslick
jcoxJenny
Cox
sqdSean
Drummond
sheeleySarah
Sheeley
jsmaddenJoseph
Madden
cknight4Connie
Knight
schulzeHeather
Schulze
kbaumgarKeena
Finney
adkssnBeatrice
Adkisson
trabari1Katie
Trabaris
metclfKara
Metcalf
ljohnso2Lori
Johnson
lchenoweLeslie
Chenoweth
wdedoWolali
Dedo
spinnerDavid
Spinner
plblumPatricia
Simpson
stevens2Chad
Stevens
lsagekarLori
Sage-Karlson
bertholdDeborah
Berthold
kecarlsoKathryn
Carlson
sdesmondSerenity
Desmond
axelson2Jordan
Axelson
scbakerStephanie
Baker
pflotschPriscila
Falagan Lotsch
dgrayDanielle
Gray
thennes2Tom
Hennessey
holdaNancy
Holda
aibarrAlejandro
Ibarra
kimshSung Hoon
Kim
kocherg2Nikolai
Kocherginsky
philipk2Philip
Kocheril
legare2Stephanie
Legare
alewandoAgnieszka
Lewandowska
smccombiStuart
McCombie
jdm5Justin
McGlauchlen
egmooreEdwin
Moore
myerscouKathleen
Myerscough
snalla2Siva
Nalla
romanovaElena
Romanova
roubakhiStanislav
Rubakhin
shvedalxAlexander
Shved
asoudaAlexander
Soudakov
xywangXiying
Wang
kwilhelKaren
Wilhelmsen
wilkeyRandy
Wilkey
silongSilong
Zhang
schlembaMary
Schlembach
trimmellAshley
Trimmell
emccarr2Elise
McCarren
cmercierChristen
Mercier
atimpermAaron
Timperman
niesShuming
Nie
hshanHee-Sun
Han
mmgMutha
Gunasekera
kknightsKatriena
Knights
lisawLisa
Williamson
keinckKatie
Einck
kneef1Kate
Neef
txiang4Tiange
Xiang
j-hummelJohn
Hummel
i-paulIain
Paul
munjanjaLloyd
Munjanja
glnGayle
Nelsen
agerardAnna
Gerard
powerskaKimberly
Powers
lolshansLisa
Olshansky
miricaLiviu
Mirica
qingcao2Qing
Cao
lisa3Lisa
Johnson
tinalambTina
Lamb
baronpBaron
Peters
bransle2Sarah
Bransley
dylanmh2Dylan
Hamilton
raegansRaegan
Smith
apm8Angad
Mehta
leverittJohn
Leveritt
xingwXing
Wang
emillrEva
Miller
jmill24Jacqueline
Miller
jlbass2Julia
Bass
ramonarRamona
Rudzinski
tlcraneTracy
Crane
cejohnstCelia
Johnston
adlAmber
LaBau