Kirk Pearce "The Mad Scientist"

This summer, senior linebacker Kirk Pearce was given the opportunity of a lifetime.  Read the Q&A to learn about the incredible internship Kirk earned for this summer back in California.

EMAP: What is the name of the internship?
KP: Chem-SURF Research Experience for Undergraduates at University of California, Irvine.

EMAP: Tell us what makes it such a prestigious opportunity?
KP: University of California, Irvine has a chemistry graduate program ranked among the top in the nation.  I will be working right along graduate students that were accepted into this program.  I will also be working with a professor who is widely acclaimed in the chemistry world.

EMAP: How exclusive is this internship?
KP: It ranges from school to school, but summer REU programs typically have an acceptance rate below 10%

EMAP: How will this help your future career plans?
KP: Undergraduate research experience, along with many other things, is essential in order to proceed onto graduate school.  Summer research projects like this not only fulfill this requirement, but act as a "try out" to see what graduate school would be like without any long term commitment.  After this summer, I will have two full summers of research experience and hope to be accepted into a PH.D. program for Physical Chemistry or Theoretical Chemistry right out of college.

EMAP: What exactly will you be doing?
KP: This summer, I will be working on a quantum computational chemistry project in which we use a computer program called TURBOMOLE to implement and test new electronic structure methods.  In layman's terms, we will be using a very complex computer program to discover how electrons behave at a microscopic level.

EMAP: How did Greenville prepare you for this internship?
KP: If it weren't for my chemistry advisory, Dr. Iler, I wouldn't have the confidence to even pursue a Ph.D. after college.  In addition to his encouragement and motivation, the classes I have taken at
Greenville have given me a strong foundation on which all of the concepts I will be learning will build on

EMAP: Where are the other students you are working with from?
KP: The graduate students I am working closest with are from Pomona, Minneapolis, Italy, Germany and China.  However the other REU summer students are from all over the US.

EMAP: What have you learned so far?
KP: So far, I have become accustomed to the program, TURBOMOLE and have run basic calculations on simple molecules.  Soon, I will be working alongside one of the graduate students here and working with them on their specific research project.

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