Outstanding Undergraduate Research - Kaia Ellis

KENNESAW, Ga. (May 16, 2022)  —  Kaia Ellis, a senior studying integrative chemistry at Kennesaw StateKaia Ellis University, has been selected for the prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program this summer at Northeastern University (NU).  
The REU program accepts nine students from the thousands of students who apply from across the country to participate in interdisciplinary research teams for ten weeks from May 30 to August 6, 2022. Ellis’ hands-on work in integrative chemistry made her an ideal candidate, according to her laboratory mentor and Assistant Professor of Organic Chemistry Carl Saint-Louis. 
“She has been a leader in the lab and contributed immensely towards multiple projects by training other students and synthesis[ing] novel compounds,” Saint-Louis said about her accomplishments. 
While participating in NU’s REU program, Ellis will have the opportunity to further her research in medicinal chemistry, which is what excites her more than anything else, through workshops, lectures, presentations, and a research symposium at the conclusion of the program.  
“There are a lot of places that provide opportunities to conduct chemistry research, but it’s rare to find one where I can specialize in medicinal chemistry,” she said. “The acceptance into this program brings me one step closer to accomplishing my goal of applying chemistry to cosmetics. My ultimate future aspiration is to create skin care for specific conditions, like psoriasis and eczema.” 
The REU program acceptance validated Ellis’ belief that she is where she is meant to be, affirming that at her core, she is a scientist.  
“I was so nervous, but [the acceptance] made me feel really confident about being a chemist,” she said. “Like, ‘oh, maybe this is what I’m supposed to be doing!’” 
Ellis thanked her mentor, Saint-Louis, for his continued support and guidance as she learned to navigate a laboratory setting, and for introducing her to the REU program in the first place. 
“If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be able to be where I am now,” she said. “He really pushed me in the right direction and kept me on track.” 
Renee Hudson