Graduate student interview: Jennifer Woohyun Moon

jenn moon

We are pleased to have Jennifer Moon as our graduate student interviewee! We recently caught up with her to see what she's working on and to get advice for other grad students. Thanks Jennifer!

What program are you in and when did you start it?

I started in Masters in Chemistry (Nanotechnololgy) program in May 2019 with Juewen Liu.

When did you know that you wanted to do graduate school?

I was not interested in further studies throughout my undergraduate studies. Back then, all I wanted to do was graduate. It wasn’t until the very end of my studies that I realized I truly enjoy the experience of scientific research. The research group I became part of in my 4th year was an inspiring experience, because I fell in love with nanomaterial and biosensor research. From then on, I knew I woul be working in that field. So, I got a job as a research technologist at a biotechnology company and worked with a range of different nanomaterials and developed analytical assays for characterization. Although I also enjoyed the position very much for more than 3 years, the thought of working on a biosensor project grew bigger and bigger over a long time. So, when I was reflecting on my career around one Christmas time, I finally decided to go back to school and study again.

How did you find your supervisor?

I’d like to think that I’m quite adventurous and if I am curious about something, I like to try it out. I grew up in Coquitlam, BC, attended UBC, and worked in Vancouver. Although I love my Vancity, I was always curious about the life in Ontario in general.

So, when I decided I wanted the change, I thought why not try living there? So, I only focused around the schools in Ontario and searched for an interesting research topic in the chemistry departments. Although there were many groups, I narrowed down to one supervisor at Waterloo. It was easy to find him because I knew what I wanted for my research topic. Then, I just emailed him to talk about his research, as well as tell him about my background.

What is your research on?

We are examining the metal ion detection using DNAzyme biosensors. These DNAzymes are powerful in that you only need a few microliter of aqueous sample for detection with high sensitivity. Currently, I am examining the DNAzyme interaction with metal ions and the potentially interfering biomolecules to further understand the system.

How did you become interested in your research?

I was interested in chemical sensor research for a long time. The idea of fast and efficient detection of target analyte, as well as working on understanding the fundamental chemistry of the sensor designs made me excited. So, when I found out about the DNAzymes and how they can be in vitro selected and be used as a sensor, I became very interested.

Why did you choose UW for graduate school?

I chose UW for graduate school because of the supervisor who was working on the field of interest for me. I think I can learn a lot from the Liu group.

What advice do you have for current graduate students?

I am just starting out as a graduate student, so I wouldn’t be in the position to give any advices. But, I would advise any students to make sure to dedicate time for exercise. It really helps you to deal with stress. I also try to eat healthy. Both exercise and food help to keep your body strong to continue working hard for your graduate studies.

What advice do you have for potential graduate students?

I think having research work experience really helps. UWaterloo students generally have co-op experience, so that should not be a problem. If not, volunteering is a really great idea.

What is your favourite thing about Waterloo (the city)?

This might be a weird thing to say as my favourite thing about the city… Coming from Vancouver, I was actually really impressed with the efficiency of snow removal in the winter months…

What is the best place to get food near/on campus?

My current favourite is the chilli and garlic bread from Math C&D on Friday.

What do you like to do when you're not doing research?

For the past one year or so, I’ve picked up indoor rock climbing. I’ve been going about once a week.

Thanks for the interview!