Working towards a sustainable future
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Student: José L. López Morales

Name: López-Morales José L.

Hometown: Aguada, Puerto Rico

Institution: University of Puerto Rico

Campus: Mayaguez Campus

Rank: MSc.; PhD student

Major: Chemistry

Expected date of graduation: May 2014

Degree: Ph.D in Chemistry

Agency of interest: USDA



Career cxperience/location:

Graduate student, researcher, mentor of two undergraduate students.


Description of career experience (what I learned):

My research is focused on using recycling materials such as tire crumb rubber for the removal of antimicrobials and organic compounds from aqueous systems.


What is your perception of agriculture now:

Agriculture is growing stronger each day thanks to initiatives taken by the USDA and the Universities to reach out to young people so they can learn the importance of

agriculture in our lives. Every country in the word should put considerably effort and resources to have a sustainable agriculture. The importance of agriculture should be

taught at every level, and not wait until high school or college to introduce children to this science that is fundamental to our survival. That why projects such as CETARS

and the K-12 outreach component are very important.


How has this career experience broadened your employment opportunities?

Through this career experience I had access to state-of-the art instruments such as a liquid chromatograph/ion trap mass spectrometer (LC/MS); high performance liquid

chromatographs equipped with detectors such as diode array, UV and fluorescence (HPLC/DAD,UV,FL); inductively coupled plasma/mass spectrometer (ICP/MS) and

microwave technology for samples digestion or extraction (MAE/MAD). In addition, I learned techniques and methodologies useful in the qualitative and quantitative

analysis of samples of agricultural origin.


Career and research aspirations:

My immediate goal after obtaining my PhD is to find a job at the USDA. I aspire to grow professionally and as a scientist, to contribute in the development of new techniques

and methodologies for a sustainable environment and agriculture.


Skill Set:

Bilingual: English, Spanish. Profiecient in MS Excel, Word and Power Point. Vast experience in instruments such as HPLC, GC, GC/MS, GC/ECD/NPD, UV/VIS, ICP-OES, AAS,

and IR. Experience with instruments such as LC/MS, ICP/MS, IC and GC/FID. Vast experience with MAD and MAE systems, and SPME techniques. Vast experience in

Process Control in WWTP: jar tests, TSS, COD, VSS, pH and turbidity. Knowledge of EPA regulations and methods. Excellent communication skills and interpersonal

relationships. Can work in groups or individually, extremely motivated, fast learner, effective in problem solving techniques.


The impact of my career experience:

The acquired reseach experiences at the USDA-ARS has given me the opportunity to expand my skills at the scientific level, increasing my chances to find a job after

graduation. I had the opportunity to worked with state-of-the-art instrumentation that are currently used in advanced reasearch laboratories in federal agencies such as the

EPA, FDA and USDA. I addition, I learned new methods and techniques for the analysis and determination of organic and inorganic compounds of agricultural and

environmental importance. Moreover, these experiences helped me to improve my skills writing technical reports, scientific papers and presentations among other things.

My goal is to find a reseach position at a federal agency, preferible the USDA, to grow up professionally and contribute with the knowledge acquired.

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