American Chemical Society scholar joins ASU School of Molecular Sciences

October 1, 2020

Gabriella Cerna is a first-year and first-generation student in the School of Molecular Sciences and Barrett, The Honors College, majoring in biochemistry. Upon joining Arizona State University, she was awarded a scholarship from the prestigious and competitive American Chemical Society Scholars Program.

The American Chemical Society Scholars Program focuses on providing underrepresented minority students the opportunity to earn their undergraduate degree in a chemistry-related field. Cerna is from Arizona and attended Deer Valley High School, where she completed many AP and dual-enrollment classes to prepare her for college. In her free time, she loves to read, especially about new scientific topics. Gabriella Cerna Download Full Image

The American Chemical Society scholarship made Cerna's journey to ASU possible. In her last year of high school, she applied for many scholarships. It was difficult for her and her parents to save up money for college when they barely had enough to pay for their essentials. Cerna was relying on earning scholarships to aid her in paying for school. She believed that her chances of ever winning a national scholarship like that of the American Chemical Society were very slim. To her surprise, she exceeded the requirements of the application and was selected to be a recipient of the full-ride ACS scholarship.

“This helped my family and I take some burden off of our shoulders and now I can focus on school without worrying about the cost to attend,” Gabriella said. 

In her first semester, she has been learning a lot more and connecting with the content on a deeper level than in high school. Throughout the next four years of college, Cerna would love to explore research and learn more about chemistry in every aspect. She is excited to perform research in her first-ever lab and meet more passionate scientists like herself. Her goal is to apply science and show others how the world works by solving complex problems and doing research.

My advice to students is to not underestimate their potential, you are capable of anything and qualified enough, just apply for the scholarship!” she said.

Question: How did you find out about the American Chemical Society scholarship? 

Answer: My counselor sent out an email with the information on where and how to apply. The scholarship helps students who are part of a minority, like me. I heard back a couple of months after applying but the application process itself is competitive. Do not give up, always keep your head held high and keep a positive mindset when applying for scholarships. 

Q: What is your dream job after graduation? 

A: I would love to be someone involved in research for either a company or a university. I plan to go to grad school and get a PhD in an area that I am most passionate about. 

Q: What is your biggest motivator?

A: My biggest motivator is the teachers who inspired me in high school to do and dedicate myself to anything that I set my heart to, which in this case is chemistry. Their support and push helped me apply to college and earn a great scholarship.  

Q: Why did you choose your major?

A: I love science. Being able to apply myself to the material and learn how the world works outside of the classroom is outstanding. 

Q: Why did you choose the School of Molecular Sciences and ASU?

A: I chose ASU and the School of Molecular Sciences because I was interested in the honors program here and when I took the tour at (the school), I felt like I fit in perfectly. A program with excellent innovation and research was a must for me and I found it all here. 

Written by Mariela Lozano, School of Molecular Sciences communctions assistant. Jenny Green contributed to the story. 

Mariela Lozano

Communication assistant, School of Molecular Sciences

ASU master's degree student earns AAAS fellowship researching sustainability in emerging technology

October 1, 2020

Carole Mars was ready for a new challenge. After more than a decade at the Sustainability Consortium, directing sustainability research in manufactured goods supply chains, she decided to move outside her comfort zone. 

“I wanted to do something new and different,” said Mars. “I was interested in the ethics of emerging technologies and how they were impacting society.” Carole Mars in garden Carole Mars. Download Full Image

Coming from a more traditional science background, including earning her PhD in chemistry, Mars didn’t think she would enjoy policy, let alone make a career out of it. But in the Master of Science and Technology Policy program at Arizona State University's School for the Future of Innovation in Society, she discovered an enthusiasm for the challenges of science and technology policy, and how MSTP teaches students to find solutions.

“The MSTP program looks at how you write policy about new and unknown technologies,” Mars said. “When it comes to policy and sustainability questions about emerging technologies, there aren’t any easy answers.”

Mars has been selected for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science & Technology Policy Fellowship. The fellowship places scientists and engineers in federal agencies and congressional offices to learn about federal policymaking and implementation. She learned about the fellowship through the Master of Science and Technology Policy program and felt it would be a good opportunity to make a mid-career change and transition to something new.

“Doing something like this never crossed my mind when I started MSTP," Mars said. “I applied for the fellowship because it was an exciting way to move forward in science and technology policy while leveraging my experience in sustainability.”

Mars will support the office of the deputy assistant secretary of defense for Environment, Health, and Operational Safety, Chemical and Material Risk Management Program at the Department of Defense. She will be working on transparency and reporting in chemical and material supply chains, including emerging chemicals whose regulation could globally impact troop readiness.

“This position is really exciting because it's leveraging so much of what I did at the Sustainability Consortium in an entirely new way,” Mars said. “Previously, I would only make recommendations on how to achieve more sustainable supply chains. With this position, I'm moving into implementation.”

During her time at the Sustainability Consortium, Mars focused on electronic waste, the challenges with product takeback programs and how to improve current systems. In collaboration with the Responsible Battery Coalition, she worked on circularity and sustainability in battery supply chains. She wants to continue researching these topics during her fellowship. 

“Much of the challenge with recycling and e-waste is the reverse logistics,” Mars said. “We've optimized getting stuff out very effectively, but not getting it back. I want to learn more about how defense supply chains work because they do reverse logistics. If they put something out in the field, they have to bring it back with them.” 

Mars is currently in her final semester in the Master of Science and Technology Policy program and working on her applied project, researching lab-grown meat and the challenges of classifying this type of food. She is appreciative that the program helped her find a career path she’s passionate about.

“I will be forever grateful to MSTP for opening up this opportunity,” Mars said. “I would have never found the AAAS fellowship without this program.”

Ashley Richards

Communications Specialist , School for the Future of Innovation in Society