Meet some of our chemistry majors.
Mario Jesus Alvarado ’25
Hometown: Redding, California
What was your motivation to major in chemistry?
I chose to major in chemistry because I have always thought it was a fun topic to learn about. My affinity for the subject initially began in high school, when I took multiple chemistry classes at my local community college. Since then, as I continue to take classes at Occidental, my motivation to expand my chemistry knowledge continues to grow—especially as I dive further into my area of particular interest, which is organic chemistry.
Can you describe your working relationships with chemistry professors?
During the beginning of my first year at Occidental, I found that the professors in the chemistry department were amazing. They teach the various topics in such an engaging way, which makes the lectures incredibly fun. In addition, whenever I needed advice regarding advising, research opportunities, course material, and post-undergraduate plans, they have always been available to offer their guidance. They all played a major role in my decision to pursue chemistry further. Some standout classes include both the organic chemistry courses in addition to CHEM 130, or “Advanced Placement General Chemistry.” Taking these courses with Professors Duquette, Cannon, and Hill was an enjoyable experience and I highly recommend doing so.
[Research] was an amazing experience because I learned so much regarding how to conduct my own experiments as well as the research world as a whole.
Have you taken part in any student research opportunities at Oxy or elsewhere?
I participated in the REAP program during the summer of 2022, where I conducted research under Professor Navarro. To elaborate, in the Navarro lab we focus on finding new synthetic pathways to access a variety of medicinally relevant and bioactive compounds. It was an amazing experience because I learned so much regarding how to conduct my own experiments as well as the research world as a whole. It ultimately gave me an opportunity to expand my chemistry knowledge beyond the borders of a textbook. I am grateful to both the Undergraduate Research Center as well as Professor Navarro and I will continue to conduct research under him throughout my undergraduate career.
What do you find most compelling about studying chemistry?
What I found most compelling regarding studying chemistry is not only the intricacies that come along with it, but also its impact on the world we live in. Each time I learn something new within a lecture, I see the correlation between the subject at hand and its application in satisfying the needs of others. As I progress further through my major, I continue to see how chemistry serves as the foundation for people to live better lives.
As I progress further through my major, I continue to see how chemistry serves as the foundation for people to live better lives.
Do you have any advice for a student considering a major in chemistry?
For any students considering majoring in chemistry, I highly recommend that you think about joining one of the various research groups within the department. Learning chemistry through the lectures is one thing, but through research, you develop an appreciation for the subject and the impact it has on other people. In addition, you are given the opportunity to form close relationships with the faculty who can not only provide amazing guidance, but also give insight into a wide variety of other opportunities relating to chemistry.
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