Paul Cesana

Major: Chemistry

Hometown: Cranston, RI

What accomplishments and/or activities are you most proud of while at URI?

I really am most proud of the research I got to perform throughout my time at URI. Before coming here, I thought college was just a place to go to class and spend time with friends! I never realized just how interesting it was to perform research. Specifically, my fantastic advisors in the chemistry department, Prof. Brenton DeBoef and Prof. Dugan Hayes, expanded my interest in how I can improve knowledge about certain topics. Since both my graduate mentor and I are graduating this semester, we are writing publications for the work we have performed.  It will be amazingly exciting to see the finished product of our efforts!

What research projects, internships, or study abroad experiences did you participate in at URI?

I participated in multiple research projects at URI.  I was able to join the DeBoef group and the Hayes group in the chemistry department. With the DeBoef group, I was able to synthesize cage-like molecules that could one day be used to mark certain biomolecules like the proteins formed during Alzheimer’s disease. These molecules, with the help of a xenon atom, could create a novel MRI method of analysis. I was given the opportunity to travel to Finland with my graduate student mentor, and continue this work for 2 weeks at the University of Oulu. With the Hayes group, I was able to explore how molecules react through the use of a laser system. Also, I was award an A&S Fellowship and a (URI)^2 grant for my research. With the research groups, I was able to attend the American Chemical Society Conference and present a poster about my research. This all enhanced my education because I really got to participate in the field I one day hope to work and improve my own knowledge by translating what I learned in class to the real world.

What do you value about your liberal arts education?

I think a liberal arts education is valuable because it forces someone to expand their mind quite a bit. Last year, as a chemistry major, I took PSC 116G, Introduction to International Politics. I thought this course wouldn’t have any affect on my mindset whatsoever. But, to my amazement, we started to talk one day about how difficult it is to pass legislation about environmental issues. This is because even though it benefits everyone on earth, there are no direct benefits (like money). Now, if I am to enter the scientific field, I need to be able to sell why the overall benefits of what I am doing are much more important than short-term benefits. Without taking a political science course, I wouldn’t have even thought of this problem.