SURE Program Gave McNair Scholar New Challenge in Working with Liquid Crystals
This summer, Kent State University senior Delonte Goodman was a first-time participant in the SURE (Summer Undergraduate Research Experience), which allowed him to further his research skills and knowledge while nurturing important relationships with mentors in the laboratory.
Goodman spent the summer working under the direction of mentor Tony Jakli, Ph.D., professor at the Advanced Materials and Liquid Crystal Institute, whose graduate student, Alex Adaka, was conducting dielectric measurements for ferronematic liquid crystals. These liquid crystals are a new type that has spurred debate about whether they have dielectric properties, Jakli said.
Goodman has participated in research projects since his sophomore year at Kent State as a student in the McNair Scholars Program, a federally funded program designed to prepare undergraduate students for doctoral studies through involvement in research and other scholarly activities.
Adaka worked with Goodman daily, showing him how to make the samples used for testing, fill the material, operate the instruments and analyze the results.
“Alex explained the process and I went through some training to understand the basics,” Goodman said. “It was similar to the research I did for both McNair and the Ohio Space Grant Consortium [a statewide network of universities working to expand opportunities to participate in NASA’s projects and that support STEM, Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, fields through scholarships, fellowships and the like]. “The cells we created were very small. From this experience for the summer, I learned more about the actual machinery that we use in the lab.”
Jakli said the project was not an easy one to undertake for the eight-week SURE program, but he was confident that Goodman could make progress because of the background he has acquired as a McNair Scholar, working with transistors that used liquid crystals.
“It was a complicated thing, but I chose to give it to Delonte because he has been with me as a McNair Scholar for two years now,” Jakli said. “He is already familiar with liquid crystals. I would not have given this project to another student who is learning about liquid crystals.”
Goodman, a mechatronics engineering major in the College of Aeronautics and Engineering, had worked as a McNair Scholar with another professor on the transistors involving liquid crystals. When that professor left the university, Jakli “inherited” Goodman.
“Delonte had been studying transistors using liquid crystals,” Jakli said. “But in the SURE program he wanted to do something else, and I also wanted him to do something else just to have more experience.”
Goodman grew up in Cleveland and attended the Cleveland School of Architecture & Design. He is a first-generation college student from a single-parent household.
Goodman chose to attend Kent State because of its affordability and its closeness to home. A bonus attraction was the extra-curricular activities that were offered.
“One thing that also drew me into Kent State was that they had a Pokémon club,” Goodman said. “I was like, ‘Okay, it's pretty close, and it has something that I like.’ I am actually the president of the Pokémon Club now.”
Once Goodman arrived on campus, he found Kupita/Transiciones (K/T) to be helpful in making his transition to college. K/T is a free program that includes a cultural orientation, transition experience and year-long mentoring program for newly admitted and transfer African American, Latinx, Hispanic, Native American and Multiracial students. He also is a resident assistant in Tri-Towers residence hall.
Goodman is looking forward to applying to graduate school at Kent State in the mechatronics engineering Ph.D. program so that he can pursue more research related to mechatronics.
“My goal is to eventually work with aerospace applications to create and design Rovers for long-distance air space travel and improving propulsive mechanisms,” Goodman said. “I would like to eventually go into the NASA Pathways program as an intern and work there full-time.”