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Elina Ghimire.jpg

Student Highlights

Degree being sought: Polymer Science BS
Institution: University of Southern Mississippi
Research group: Simon Group
Hometown: Morang, Nepal

Give a brief synopsis of research/work being done:

Polymer vesicles, a.k.a polymersomes, are hollow capsules formed by the assembly of amphiphilic blocks. My research focuses on investigating the co-assembly behavior of linear amphiphilic triblocks in the fabrication of polymersomes. The latter are extensively used as cell mimics and are thus promising candidates for drug delivery, biosensing, imaging and diagnostic, and as nanoreactors. So far, I have successfully synthesized amphiphilic triblocks and co-assembled them into vesicles. Currently, I am working on characterizing them via techniques such as dynamic light scattering, static light scattering, transmission electron microscopy, and atomic force microscopy. Ideally, this project will give a better insight on stimuli-responsive polymer vesicles. 

From your current perspective, what do you see as an ideal fit for your skills, goals and career moving forward?

In the upcoming two years of my undergraduate degree, I intend to continue my current research and publish the outcomes. In addition to my current field of research, I look forward to being involved in other diverse topics which I believe will help me explore my interests and abilities better. Upon graduation, I want to pursue a doctoral degree in Chemical Engineering with an emphasis on biomedicine. To be more specific, I plan to focus on human health technologies at the molecular level.

What USM-related scholarships did you receive?

2016-2020 Golden Opportunity International Scholarship

2018-2020 Honors Keystone Scholar Award Scholarship

Awards won

2018 Drapeau Summer Research Grant

2018 Western Union Scholar Award

2017 Honorable Mention for Women in Science and Engineering

Spring 2017-2018 President’s List

Main USM extracurricular activity – why is this important to you?

In 2017, I served as a historian for Women in Science and Engineering and am still an active member of the organization. It organizes programs where women role models are invited to share the journeys to their scientific career. Listening to those stories always inspires and motivates me to work harder. Besides, we get to hear various problems faced by the female students around the campus and help them to the best of our ability. I really enjoy participating in the volunteering activities conducted by this organization which include football games fundraiser, outreach activities, etc.

Your most profound turning point while at USM?

I find myself fortunate on being able to work as an undergraduate researcher in Simon research group. I started working in the lab from the beginning of summer 2017, and since then, I have found myself grow a lot both academically and professionally. I have not only learned lab techniques but also have understood the other inevitable skills to be a successful scientist.  Within the one year of my lab experience, I have been able to present my work at various conferences including the national meeting of American Chemical Society. These opportunities have exposed me to the diversity of the scholarly world. Continuing to work in the group, I look forward to boosting my knowledge and experience to make myself admirable of my scientific career.

What are your plans for next year and beyond?

I intend to develop myself academically, socially, and professionally to be ready to accept greater challenges in graduate school. I plan on expanding my research experience through an internship outside of USM during the summer of 2019. I believe that getting to work in a different research area in a different environment will be an invaluable experience for my personal and professional growth. After my undergraduate degree, I aim at pursuing a doctoral degree in Chemical Engineering which I hope will help me decide on my career ahead.

While at USM, what other accomplishments/activities are you most proud of?

I am a recipient of Drapeau Summer Research Grant for the summer of 2018, which I consider one of my greatest achievements to date. Winning this award provided me the opportunity to continue my research over summer and thus, pushed me ahead towards publishing my work.

What was one of your greatest challenges attending USM?

Staying miles away from home for college has been quite challenging for me. The transformation from being the youngest child of the family to a responsible person was not easy. In addition, my education in Nepal until high school was rather conventional. There was not much to do in school beside attending the classes. Coming from such a background to compete with the students from the United States has been an effort. In the beginning, I used to find myself way behind in terms of my involvement in extracurricular activities and social network which, in fact are key to one’s personality development. However, with a constant support from faculty, staff, and friends I have been better in developing myself in other areas outside the classroom. I would like to think that I have been successful in accepting the challenge of being an international student at USM.