Student speaks at Canada's largest chemical physics conference

Sarah BickerLike many students, chemistry major Sarah Bickers wasn’t sure what to expect in the workplace. While she enjoyed learning about the applications of her studies, Sarah didn’t expect to fall in love with research. But that’s exactly what happened during her co-op work term at the McMahon Lab at the University of Waterloo.
 
During her employment at the laboratory, Sarah examined growing gas-phase lithium formate and sodium formate salt clusters. In her research, Sarah made a discovery which suggested that several important stable salt structures were overlooked in previous studies and were never formally documented.
 
I found this aspect of the project really rewarding - I am contributing to the advancement of knowledge by filling in these gaps.
Sarah presented her findings at the 31st annual Symposium of Chemical Physics – the largest chemical physics conference in Canada with notable speakers from all over the world.
 
I found this experience incredible! I was able to discuss my research with individuals who are incredibly passionate about what they do, which was truly inspirational.
Though research does not always yield immediate results, Sarah was able to take her the challenges of her work in stride.
 
Don’t be afraid to fail. Research has taught me many things, but the most important take away is that failing is inevitable and what really defines you is how you handle that failure.
Sarah’s co-op experience allowed her to gain valuable insight and knowledge that she plans to apply to her own research projects. She credits the Co-operative Education program for helping her find an ideal working environment.
 
I really enjoy the opportunities that co-operative education provides. It allows students to try new roles and to gain hands-on experience. The diversity of the jobs and positions available to co-op students really allows them to become well-rounded and gain exposure to many different career paths before graduation.
Based on her experience at the Lab, she has a few words of friendly advice for incoming and current students 
 
University is a time to try news things and discover more about yourself. If there’s something that you’re interested in trying, go for it! You’ll learn new things, meet new people and have a fun time.
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