With a wide range of research labs to explore for undergraduate research opportunities as a chemistry major at Illinois, Idalee Johnson Rosas felt overwhelmed trying to find a lab to join.
After getting involved in the student program, C2 – Chemical Science Through Community, Idalee was matched with a graduate student mentor, Joenisse Rosado-Rosa, who guided Idalee through the process of finding a lab that would be a good fit for her.
“Joenisse has been a great aide for me this year in finding and joining a research lab, in helping me broaden my options after graduation that align with my aspirations, and I made an amazing new friend who I've come to admire so much,” Idalee said in her nomination of Joenisse for the C2 Outstanding Mentor Award.
Joenisse and fellow Illinois chemistry graduate student mentor Catherine Jalomo both received the C2 Outstanding Mentor Award in 2022 for their work with undergraduate students through the C2 program, which is a community of scholars on campus comprised of undergraduate chemistry and chemical engineering majors from underrepresented groups.
Students are paired with graduate student mentors, invited to participate in monthly professional development and networking events, encouraged to apply for summer research fellowships sponsored by the 3M corporation as well as competitive research travel awards to attend chemistry conferences across the country.
Idalee said Joenisse took the time to listen to her interests in chemical science research, then narrow down a list of labs that would fit those interests, and help her connect with people Joenisse knew in some of those labs.
“Joe continuously challenged me to not feel discouraged when opportunities fell through and to stay optimistic about other options out there to join research,” said Idalee, who did find a lab that is a good fit. “She comes by to check in with me and ask how things are going. I find that those are always great opportunities to get some advice from her.”
Undergraduate student Ehmely Margarita Hernandez was mentored by Catherine Jalomo. Ehmely said Catherine has been one of the best mentors she has ever had.
“She has always been there to answer my questions and always has been more than a mentor but a friend who understands my background and struggles at a PWI (Primarily White Institution),” Ehmely explained. “She introduced me and encouraged me to apply to her [research group’s] On Ramp Shadowing Program and has become my shadowing mentor as well. Her encouragement to apply to the program has opened so many opportunities and now I will be doing summer research alongside her. She has challenged me to get out my comfort zone and explore the options I have and has always been there ready with answers and has helped me this year with any difficulties and doubts that I had.”
Ehmely is one of six Illinois chemistry undergraduate students from the C2 program who will spend their summers as 3M Summer Research Scholars, working about 40 hours a week in various faculty research groups alongside postdoctoral researchers and graduate students. The other summer research scholars are Idalee Johnson Rosas, Alexis Huerta, Nicholas Cedron, Nico Maldonado, and Robert Cook. The summer scholars receive a stipend and housing allowance and also participate in social and professional development activities throughout the summer.
Joenisse and fellow chemistry graduate student Sam Okyem both received 2022 C2 Travel Awards – $2,000 toward transportation, lodging, and/or conference registration to attend a scientific conference of their choice, with preference for conferences that include underrepresented minority students, like Society for the Advancement of Hispanics, Chicanos, and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) and the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCCHE).
— Tracy Crane, Department of Chemistry