Gregory Su has earned prestigious awards throughout his undergraduate career. He arrived on campus with a University Scholars Award, a substantial four-year scholarship based on high school achievement. As a junior, Greg received a Goldwater Scholarship, a highly coveted honor awarded to academically talented students who intend to pursue careers in science, mathematics, or engineering. He was one of only 278 students nationwide to receive a Goldwater that year, and gives credit to the application guidance and support he got from Commonwealth Honors College’s Office of National Scholarship Advisement. “They reviewed my research proposal and application and provided advice that allowed me to create a competitive application,” he says. “They were instrumental.”
His father is a chemistry professor at UMass Dartmouth and his sister is a UMass Amherst alum with a degree in chemistry. So Greg has something of an inherited interest in science. He chose UMass Amherst because of the research opportunities it offers undergraduates, particularly through Commonwealth Honors College. “I think the honors thesis project is the most important aspect of the curriculum,” he notes. “As an engineer, it allows me to conduct research and present it in a way similar to that which is done in graduate school, which is very beneficial.”
As a first-year student, Greg began working with Associate Professor Alfred J. Crosby in the Department of Polymer Science and Engineering examining friction between soft materials. Greg’s focus eventually shifted to the ability of nanoparticles to improve adhesion between interfaces. In addition to his research work on campus, Greg spent each summer of his collegiate career conducting research with faculty on other campuses, including UMass Dartmouth, MIT, and South Korea’s Pohang University of Science and Technology.
“My connections with my professors and research advisor have allowed me opportunities to connect and work with people at different universities,” he says. “These connections have benefited me immensely.” Greg, as a fifth-year materials Ph.D. student at the University of California, Santa Barbara, continues to make connections. He applied to attend the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Germany during the summer of 2015, and was selected as one of the attendees. This annual meeting features dozens of Nobel Laureates who meet with the next generation of leading scientists from around the world and participate in lectures, discussions, master classes, and panel discussions. "With so many Nobel Laureates who have been pioneers in the field, it is often difficult to meet senior scientists at many conferences, so the concept of Lindau is especially unique in that regard," he says, adding, "Meeting fellow peers in science is beneficial to our future careers."