Headshot of David King
Dec. 12, 2021


David King is a senior studying biochemistry in the College of Sciences. He is a current undergraduate awardee of the 2021 Undergraduate Research Stimulus Program, Track 1: Undergraduate Research Mentor-Mentee Program. The one-time OUR 2021 Undergraduate Research Stimulus Program (URSP), funded by the Federal Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF II), provides $239,500 to be granted in two separate tracks. King currently works under Dr. Bhowmik and Dr. Han for his project, “Synthesis of Novel Fluorescent Molecular Probes for the Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease”.

What drove you to apply for the 2021 Undergraduate Research Stimulus Program?
I wanted to become actively involved in research here at UNLV hands-on. Unfortunately, COVID-19 put an abrupt stop to many research projects and opportunities that I was interested in, but the Undergraduate Research Stimulus Program (URSP) the Office of Undergraduate (OUR) offered was a perfect opportunity I couldn't pass up.  
How has the 2021 Undergraduate Research Stimulus Program helped you?
The time I spent in this program conducting research for my project Synthesis of Novel Fluorescent Molecular Probes for the Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease was an invaluable opportunity for me to develop crucial skills required in research such as critical analysis, problem solving, presentation skills, planning, and report writing. Even more importantly, it helped me gain an appreciation for the research process.
What was your experience during the Research Data Boot Camp?
The Research Data Boot Camp was extremely informational for me, including topics that I was not hugely familiar with such as research ethics, data collection, analysis, and presentation. It almost felt like an insider scoop on how research works because as undergraduates, we sometimes only see one side of research. It was also a great opportunity to meet many of the professors and learn about the research that they conduct here at UNLV.
What are your research interests and future career goals?
I aspire to become actively involved in a research-related career to investigate new materials that offer the same or improved properties to replace commonly used materials that damage the environment and are harmful to human health. Creating a bridge between chemistry and the environment encourages a healthier interaction with our changing planet and modern society.  I am also passionate about STEM education and wish to become an educator in the field of materials science. Teaching is important to me as it provides the opportunity for me to share my passions with others that want to advance their knowledge in the field, but it also creates a platform that allows me to inform the general public on the importance of environmentally conscious materials. I also strongly believe that chemistry shapes the way you critically think about the world around you, preparing students for future situations where you have to apply your knowledge such as diagnosing a patient.
Please describe the impact of research involvement on your personal and professional development.
Working in Dr. Bhowmik’s lab has opened my eyes towards the diligence required for a research-related career and has helped me develop and crystallize crucial skills required in research to prepare me for graduate school and beyond. I feel more confident in my preparation for these future adventures because of the experience that I have gained through my research involvement here at UNLV, as well as the various opportunities that OUR has generously provided to us students. 
What is one piece of advice you would give to future researchers?
Never give up on yourself because research requires a tremendous amount of patience and hard work. Some of the most important discoveries that researchers have made were serendipitous, such as the discovery of penicillin!
Please describe the impact of COVID-19 on your research and the role of the Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) at UNLV on your research development.
Although COVID-19 halted many opportunities for research, I still was able to learn so much about research through the workshops and presentations OUR had before the URSP. OUR played a vital role in jump-starting and supporting my involvement in research through the URSP, which is something I am really grateful for.
Do you have anything you would like to add about your experience and/or your faculty research mentor?
I would like to extend my immense gratitude to Dr. Bhowmik and Dr. Han for their unconditional support in pursuit of my academic endeavors, ultimately fostering my love for research. I wouldn't have been able to fully appreciate the elegance and meticulousness of organic chemistry without them, as well as the grit required to conduct experimental organic synthesis.