From garbage bags to life saving medical devices, plastic surrounds us in our daily lives. We don't give much thought to where plastics come from, yet they are a part of just about everything we do. University of Houston chemistry major Saba Javed has been researching more efficient ways to make certain plastics, with the ultimate goal of finding new, lower-cost methods.
Javed has been interested in research since participating in the National Science Foundation-sponsored Center for Materials Chemistry Research Experiences for Undergraduates program at UH before her sophomore year. Now Javed, who graduated this May with a bachelor of science degree, plans to continue her research as a graduate student in chemistry at the California Institute of Technology. She joined the ranks of those whose undergraduate chemistry degree from UH is certified by the American Chemical Society. When it comes to undergraduate chemistry degrees, certification by the American Chemical Society is like the Good Housekeeping seal of approval, signaling to potential employers and graduate schools that a student has completed an especially rigorous chemistry curriculum. ACS requirements include at least 500 lab hours, a portion of which can be dedicated to undergraduate research. Although research is not required for the B.S. degree, it is an option many students take because it allows them to do high-level research as undergraduates while working toward a degree. This opens the door for them to impact the world as they learn. It also enhances their value to companies looking for experienced laboratory workers and prepares students for rigorous chemistry graduate programs should they pursue that avenue.