UC LEADS Scholar

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Undergraduate student researcher Alejandra “Ali” Gonzalez (Spokoyny group) has been accepted into the prestigious UC LEADS program. 

The University of California Leadership Excellence through Advanced DegreeS (UC LEADS) program is one of the most prestigious fellowships awarded by the University of California system. Each year this honor is awarded to up to nine UCLA upper-division undergraduate students in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The program provides the students with educational experiences that prepare them to assume positions of leadership in academia, industry, government, and public service. UC LEADS scholars work closely with faculty mentors and graduate students on research projects for a two-year period and participate in activities, events and workshops designed to help prepare them for graduate education. Prof. Craig Merlic is the faculty advisor for the program.

“I am extremely impressed with Ali’s appreciation for science and a complete lack of fear to probe the research problems that she has little experience working in,” her research advisor Prof. Alex Spokoyny said. “This is certainly a quality that will get Ali really, really far in her career.”

As a UC LEADS Scholar from spring 2016 through spring 2018, Ali will receive a research stipend both during the academic year and in the summer. In addition, she will receive funding for travel to scientific conferences and professional meetings and participate in weekly UC LEADS Journal Club and a leadership seminar.

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Ali started as a Biochemistry freshman in 2013 but switched her major to Chemistry-Materials Science with an organic concentration after taking various courses that caught her interest including inorganic chemistry and organic chemistry. She joined Prof. Alexander Spokoyny’s lab as an undergraduate researcher in the summer of 2015. Her research focuses on using boron clusters as ligands in organic light emitting diode materials (OLEDs). The Spokoyny lab’s ultimate goal is to develop a new generation of OLEDs with increased efficiencies and device stabilities. As a member of the professional chemistry fraternity, Alpha Chi Sigma (AXE), Ali is one of the group’s historians and she tutors general chemistry. She is also a member of the Program for Excellence in Education and Research in the Sciences (PEERS), which aims to increase the number of students in the sciences and make teaching and/or research a part of their life’s work, and she is a Center for Academic & Research Excellence (CARE) Scholar.

“UC LEADS program should provide Ali with an exciting opportunity to continue working in my laboratory on the development of new organic light-emitting diode materials (OLEDs) and also gain a valuable experience by working in a different laboratory setting at another UC campus,” Prof. Spokoyny said.

To learn more about Prof. Spokoyny’s research, visit the group’s website.

Photo by Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.