Graduate Student Spotlight: Chiamaka Uzoewulu
Chiamaka Uzoewulu is now a graduate student of chemistry in her 3rd year at NC State University. We asked her a few questions.
A brief bio…
Chiamaka Uzoewulu grew up in the eastern part of Nigeria. She earned her B.Sc. in Pure Industrial Chemistry from the University of Nigeria Nsukka. She holds also an M.Sc. in Organic Chemistry. She is now a graduate student of chemistry in her 3rd year at NC State University, studying under the supervision of Prof. Jun Ohata. Chiamaka has three children that she is very proud of Bryan, Jason, and Zoey.
What problem are you trying to solve?
My research focuses on developing new methods for biomolecule functionalization. Specifically, I am working on labeling biomolecules such as proteins and peptides with relevant tags for versed application in research and medicine. One such project is incorporating radioisotopes into peptides/proteins to make enhanced target-specific radiotracers for tumor imaging.
What influenced you to go to Chemistry?
Taking a soft glance into the rear-view mirror of my life, I would say that my desire to understand happenings around me propelled me to study chemistry. Growing up in a remote village in the eastern part of Nigeria where concoctions made from extracts of leaves and roots are commonly used to treat certain diseases, I always wondered as a child about the healing abilities of those preparations and why they were preferred by some people over conventional medicine. I wasn’t very interested in “the healing,” which would have led me to medical school, but in understanding what causes healing (active ingredient). I realized I was always curious to know how and why things happened, which led to me opting for the sciences in high school and chemistry for advanced degrees.
Tell us about your journey to Graduate School and what led you to NC State.
After I obtained an M.Sc. in Organic Chemistry, I gained valuable experience as a researcher and became even more enthusiastic about scientific research. That was how I knew graduate school was the next step for me. The state-of-the-art facilities available for research and the expertise of some faculty members with similar research interests inspired my choice of North Carolina State University.
What are you involved in outside of Chemistry?
Outside chemistry, I have volunteered with the Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD) to mentor high school girl children to take up careers in science. Under the American Chemical Society (University of Nigeria, Nsukka Chapter), I co-organized an outreach to rural women working in a local milling firm to sensitize them on essential safety measures for their jobs. Since joining NC State, I have volunteered with CGSA to demonstrate chemistry to kids.
I spend a reasonable amount of time during weekends chatting and playing online games with my three kids, which still allows me to be present in their lives even when I’m far away from them.