It’s All About the Chemistry

Everyone contributes to the lab experience: principal investigator and researchers

When Jasmine Carrothers from Charlotte, North Carolina saw the prospect of studying in Abu Dhabi, she thought the United Arab Emirates looked like a pretty good place to take on her PhD. 

It isn’t a fluke Carrothers thinks highly of the UAE — she knows the region well because she was a double major in chemistry and international studies with a focus on the Middle East and North Africa during her undergraduate years in the US.

She applied for the NYU Abu Dhabi Global PhD Fellowship but secretly managed her expectations. “I wasn’t expecting to get in,” Carrothers admits.

But the call came, and before she knew it, Carrothers was on a flight to Abu Dhabi for the prospective graduate student weekend.

How to Find A Mentor and a Lab

For Carrothers, the best way to know if a principal investigator is going to be a good fit is to speak with the current members of the lab. During her prospective student weekend in Abu Dhabi, Carrothers took the opportunity to get to know her potential colleagues, learn more about life in the Dore Laboratory, and her principal investigator, Associate Professor of Chemistry Timothy Dore.

“He’s tough when he needs to be but he’s always very open when you have any issues,” said Carrothers. She also added that the dynamics of the team is also important to strike a good balance for a great study experience. It’s not just the principal investigator that holds the lab together — “all the members contribute to that experience too.”

From a young age, Carrothers knew she wanted to be a scientist. At NYUAD, the American works in a synthesis lab, developing 1-photon and 2-photon excitation properties. There’s a focus especially for 2-photon excitation as it has a deeper penetration into human tissue and is also less damaging during probing. 

The ongoing research to enhance excitation properties will give scientists a better way to study mammalian organisms. The ultimate goal? To create a tool to better probe our neurological systems.

With climate change, pollution, even medicinal problems, chemistry can be the root to solving those issues.

Connected to the Community

Working at NYUAD, Carrothers was surprised at how connected the university is to the wider community beyond academics. 

Science festivals, music concerts, and attending different art exhibitions are just some of the things Carrothers likes to do on campus. “It’s something I didn’t expect being here… but there are so many events,” she added. 

The graduate program’s student council also ensures Carrothers and her colleagues have lots to do besides research. So far, trips planned around the seven emirates have included paintballing, waterparks, and visiting landmarks such as the Burj Khalifa. 

“It’s so much fun. You get to connect with people within your department outside of a work setting and also others in other programs,” Carrothers said.

The NYUAD Yes Factor

As an undergraduate, the lab Carrothers worked in had a lot more graduate students and postdoctoral researchers, and she ended up not having much of a personal connection with her principal investigator. Since having good support is one of the most important deciding factors, the decision to join NYUAD became clear, quickly. 

“I saw how closely knit all the labs were (at NYUAD)... and I just knew I would have a lot of support.”