In his element in the chem lab and the kickboxing ring

Categories: MIT News, Students

PhD student Levi Knippel is dedicated to making the Department of Chemistry “a community that everyone wants to be a part of.”

前来到ag真人平台攻读化学博士,李维斯knippel将他在Genentech,在那里他是一个副研究员,有两个世界冠军kickboxers训练工作日之后花好几个小时。 “它帮助我打破我的壳,”他说,这项运动的。 “只是我,我的身体和我的对手试图伤害我这个禅境 - 是这样的国际象棋比赛。”

In the ring, he has a combined record of one win, one loss, and one draw. “Nice and balanced,” he says with a laugh.

knippel介绍跆拳道作为一个具有挑战性的难题,需要创造性和战略超过蛮力。这样的难题解决了类似的,虽然少了身体,亲和吸引他到有机化学在高中,最终以ag真人平台,在那里他现在研究铜氢化物化学。与分子的工作也需要触摸和平衡的细腻感,他说。

不幸的是,无论是激情已被搁置的时刻,由于covid-19大流行和撕裂的肩说的让他出擂台。而不是在实验室管理反应和净化材料,他一直在写的手稿,论文摘要提交给会议,并在奥尔斯顿攻读他的口语考试,在他家中,马萨诸塞州。 “我想用我的双手工作,”他说。 “当你得到你已经工作了几个星期材质,和你持有你手中的粉末,它的真正满意。”

Wrestling with compounds

As part of the Buchwald 在化学系研究小组,knippel工程服用烯烃,化学物质,是比较容易和便宜的农产品,并使用铜催化剂产生新的化合物,在新的药物和其他疗法的设计可能有一天援助。这些化合物是手性的,具有两个可能的方向;在许多情况下,只有那些方向之一可能是有效的在体内。

在他的论文项目的最初几个月,这似乎是他得到所需的手性的95%,但它顽强地随着时间的推移变成50-50混合物。最终,他解决了这个问题,这竟然是与他的纯化方法。 “你必须每天去上班,继续有自信,知道你正在做的一切权利,” knippel说。 “有时化学是行不通的。如果它的工作,就已经被发现了“。

Knippel says the chemistry department community gets him through the really difficult moments, which has also motivated him to take on leadership roles within it. As the president of the Chemistry Graduate Student Committee, he’s been liaising with other groups like Women in Chemistry and the Chemistry Alliance for Diversity and Inclusion to make the department more welcoming and inclusive. One event he remembers fondly was a department fall festival last year which marked the first big collaboration between all the student groups. “It’s just a joint effort among all these groups to make it a community that everyone wants to be a part of,” he says.

His department, he says, is the kind of place where, after learning that he had been through a particularly bad day, every member of his 40+ person cohort gave him a hug. “That’s when I knew I was in the right place,” he recalls.

A long way from home

在他本科年在约翰斯·霍普金斯大学的什么路径ag真人平台设置knippel一部分是他的导师强。 “现在回想起来,那是一种放肆,”他说,回顾他是怎么认识他的导师,化学教授托马斯lectka。在他第一年的第一天,knippel大胆敲开lectka办公室的门,进入,并得到了一个位置作为一个实验室研究员。 “我想看到的香肠是如何制作,可以这么说,”他说。 “我结束了爱它。我意识到,如果我这样做的职业,没两天将是我生命中的其余部分相同的“。

But at Hopkins, undergraduate research was unpaid –– and Knippel, even on full scholarship, struggled to make ends meet. Lectka helped him land a teaching assistant position that allowed him to stop working campus jobs and instead to deepen his experience in the field while maintaining a consistent source of income.

“What he did to make me be able to focus on science was huge,” Knippel says. “I just can’t imagine that I’d be where I am now if he hadn’t given me these opportunities to prove myself. I feel like I worked much harder because he was going out of his way to make my life easier.”

找到TA位置只是那knippel必须导航学院为低收入学生的方式之一。它作为一个惊喜给他,并给许多,他从小一起长大的,是顶尖大学有可能是开给他健全的金融援助计划。而一旦在霍普金斯大学,他的财政状况仍然艰难。 “我知道是谁刚刚得到新的笔记本电脑,当他们分手的同学,但我基本上保留这些东西,我不得不购买Chromebook,它甚至不能运行,我需要为类的所有程序,”他回忆道。

“I feel like I need to pay forward all the opportunities and help that have been provided to me,” he says. “That’s why I’ve been involved with programs such the MIT Summer Research Program, which aims to increase diversity in science by bringing students from underrepresented backgrounds to MIT to do research.”

“If you can, you do”

knippel的母亲也帮助推动了他的路学术界上。她曾出席一个音乐奖学金的大学,但毕业后,当他出生之前最终离开。与他的亲生父亲出来的画面,他与他的母亲和她在第一年他的生活拖车朋友。朋友将提供儿童保育而他的母亲一次在工作中不再改变才能花更多的时间与他。最终他的母亲结婚和家庭的两条河,威斯康星州,在那里他到初中,高中结算。

“我的教育一直是她最重要的事情,”他说,他的母亲。 “她选择了停止她的教育,因为她让我,只是把所有的精力投入到了我。”他回忆说,她是如何把一个书架的预告片,但是范围之以每个车库出售书籍填充它。她也推他向学校申请了状态,当很多学生在该地区赴州立大学。 “这一点很重要,如果你能,你这样做,”他记得她的坚持。

他多年担任助教,他与他的导师的关系画成knippel自学。夏天大学毕业后,在Genentech开始他的工作之前,他曾在蒙哥马利学院的讲师,在马里兰州一所社区学院,有机化学教学偏少和非传统学生。他仍然在与一些人接触 - 甚至帮助他们申请研究生院。

He’s still contemplating teaching as a career, although he’s also intrigued by the possibilities of working at places like Genentech, where the development of a drug could save thousands of lives. But Knippel, who is in the third year of his PhD program, still has some time to decide. “I don’t want to rule anything out,” he says.