Ching Ching Lam
Ching Ching Lam (Department of Chemistry), UCLA Summer 2019
The IROP placement at UCLA is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and the highlight of my undergraduate years. Under the guidance of my supervisor, Prof. Houk, and my mentor, Dr. Shuming Chen, I have gained a deep insight into the world of Computational Organic Chemistry through the involvement of two projects. The first project is about understanding the role of ammonium and sulfonium salts as catalysts for aza-Diels Alder reactions. In the second project, I investigate the unusual reactivity of an important intermediate in a total synthesis of a natural product with density functional theory (DFT) calculations. I enjoy the research experience and have learned tremendously.
Outside of the lab, I have established valuable friendships with the members of the Houk group and other undergraduates from both the United States and other parts of the world. I enjoy learning about their experience in Chemistry and their school life. On a weekly basis, we were given chances to share our research progress with the rest of the group in meetings. I really appreciate these opportunities as I could always receive value-adding advice to my projects. It also equips me with the necessary skills for communicating and selling my ideas effectively. I have also received personal supports from individual meetings with Prof. Houk and Dr. Chen. Their guidance polishes my skills in research. They always inspire me to see things from another perspective and analyse the result from different angles.
Outside of school, I have also gained insights into the Californian culture. I had an amazing food hunting experience. From the Japanese dipping noodles in Sawtelle and roasted Peking duck in San Gabriel to boiled crabs at Santa Monica pier and the impossible Umami burger at Beverly Grove, I am surprised about the range and quality of the cuisine at Los Angeles. Visits to local art museums, such as Getty Centre, LACMA and Hammer Museums, are also very rewarding.
Overall, I feel fortunate to be selected for participating in this programme and I wish to thank everyone who has supported me throughout this unforgettable journey.
" I have established valuable friendships with the members of the Houk group and other undergraduates from both the United States and other parts of the world. I enjoy learning about their experience in Chemistry and their school life."