Tristan Ruiz is a biochemistry major and he is researching thimbleberry plants under his mentor Dr. Brandon Canfield from the Department of Chemistry. The research focuses on the phenolic content of the leaves and berries, which determines the plants antioxidant activity. According to Ruiz, Dr. Canfield began this project because although there is a lot of similar research in plants such as blueberries or raspberries, there is not much information about this research done on thimbleberries.
“I’m very happy with the work I’ve been doing here,” Ruiz says of his Freshman Fellows research, “and it’s very cool, being able to work in a chemistry research lab as a freshman.” Ruiz is grateful for the opportunity the Freshman Fellowship program has given him, as he believes that it will help him in his more advanced classes here at NMU and when he begins applying to graduate schools.
Although Tristan Ruiz had never been to Michigan before attending NMU, he says that the school was an easy choice for him. While he was living in Germany he was researching colleges all over the United States, and found that not only did Northern have great facilities and a relatively small population, but he would receive in-state tuition because he was a dependent of a member of the military. Ruiz says he is very happy with his choice of school and with the research he is doing here because of the Freshman Fellows program.
Chloe Rinkel, a chemistry and forensic biochemistry major from Royal Oak, MI, is assisting Dr. Lee Roecker from the Department of Chemistry in his professional research through the Freshman Fellows program. Chloe Rinkel and Dr. Roecker are currently studying the element cobalt, which typically bonds to six chlorides, and they are seeing if they can “knock off” the chlorides by having the chemical react with an organic molecule. This is replicating what other scientists have done, but they hope to move on to original experimentation with cobalt later in the year.
Chloe is enjoying her research and she appreciates the experience that the program is granting her. “Even though I have a chem lab, this is just sort of another real-world aspect that the lecture can’t tell you about,” she says, “A lot more can go wrong [in the lab] than you hear about in the lecture.”
Although she was originally drawn to Northern Michigan University because of all of the outdoor opportunities, Chloe said she chose to attend NMU because of its academic programs and its opportunities for undergraduate research, such as the Freshman Fellows program.