Matt See, 2020 Chemistry B.S.

Matt See

Name? Year? Program? Where are you from? Are you new to CHEPS? And a boring or interesting fact about yourself. My name is Matt. I am a recent graduate of U of M. I come from Ann Arbor, MI. I am not new to CHEPS and I am right-handed. (I had to go with the classic.)

I figure I should start this blog the same way that CHEPS always starts its semesters: with questions that help introduce ourselves at CHEPS at our kickoff meetings. I started at CHEPS in the Fall 2016 semester, newly recruited by Amy at my sister’s wedding. If you want that story, you should ask Amy. Joining CHEPS was pretty difficult for me. I knew what they did, and I knew of the engineering research magic that went on behind the scenes. I didn’t think I could bring anything to the table. My technical skills were limited. I hadn’t taken any significant college courses or really ever done research. I didn’t even think I wanted to do research. I was focused on becoming an MD. Clearly, a lot has changed between then and now.

Matt presenting his work on the pre-mix project at the 2019 Undergraduate Symposium

I spent the majority of my time at CHEPS on the Chemotherapy Pre-Mix project under the mentorship of Donald Richardson. Together, we created a dynamic tool that could be used by pharmacists in the UM Rogel Cancer Center to determine which chemotherapy treatments could be mixed ahead of time before a patient arrives, saving both patient waiting time and pharmacy tech overtime costs while reducing the number of treatments wasted. Over the course of the project, I was able to get into the pharmacy and drug mixing environment and became more interested in the chemistry aspect of things, rather than the healthcare aspect of things. Why did drugs only last 8 hours, 12 hours, or even 2 hours after they mixed? Why did they decompose so quickly (or not)? These were questions I could begin to investigate as I dove further into chemistry. Through the rest of my time at Michigan, I shifted away from becoming a medical doctor toward research to answer fundamental questions.

I can’t imagine doing anything else besides research and I am now pursuing a Ph.D. in Chemistry at UC Berkeley. I found new research interests in renewable energies and green chemistry. More than 80% of the global energy demand is met with some sort of consumption of fossil fuels. This resulted in a 35% increase in total greenhouse gases since 1990 with the increase in globalization and industrialization of our world. Practical technology is coming that can transform solar energy into hydrogen gas or upgrade agricultural waste products into renewable biofuels along with new technologies to sequester the unwanted gases we already put out there. This is an area of research I hope to push the boundary of.

Moving forward, there is so much I am going to miss at CHEPS. I’m going to miss the endless amounts of treats and snacks all around the office, the spontaneous trips to the volleyball courts, shooting hoops in the breakroom, and conducting research hand-in-hand with so many medical professionals through collaborations I never thought I’d get a chance to have.

To me, CHEPS is what research should be. Results are great and results definitely come but it’s the emphasis on the students and the educational experience that make CHEPS special and so hard to leave. We are able to learn how to conduct and enjoy research (even with its frustrations…). CHEPS has laid a very strong research foundation for me that I hope to continue to build upon.