Brian Perea (Denver, Colorado)
Arizona State University
Current Position: University of California at Berkeley
Functional materials: I am interested in using advanced materials technologies to develop treatments for human diseases which improve the patient quality of life while simultaneously improving therapeutic efficacy.
Interests outside of school/research:
I am passionate about teaching science and engineering to younger students. Outside of school I develop and lead STEM outreach programs and activities with students throughout the K-12 education system. I also enjoy reading, hiking, dancing and cooking in my free time.
How did you hear about the program? Why did you apply?
I heard about the program through a family member. I applied because I knew I wanted to go to graduate school, but I was not familiar with the process to get there. I hoped the ACCESS program would clarify the application process while providing an opportunity to practice crucial skills such as public speaking and networking. Of course, I was also excited to visit MIT and the Boston area.
Interesting things you did at ACCESS and people you’ve met
One of my favorite parts of the program was meeting Professor Robert Langer and Pedro Valencia, his graduate student. Professor Langer's talk inspired me to pursue biomedical research in chemical engineering, and Pedro's breakout session helped me to understand the skills and knowledge I would need to be successful. This helped me choose additional coursework to supplement my weaknesses during the school year. I also had the opportunity to return to MIT for the MIT Summer Research Program the next summer to work with Professor Langer under Pedro's supervision. These two experiences focused my research interests and inspired me to continue research in the biomedical field.
I also enjoyed meeting other students in my major from across the country. I have seen a number of the participants at other chemical engineering events, and I remain in contact with many of them. I feel like we have established a nationwide network of friends which is pretty amazing considering we were only together for one weekend.
Favorite part of the weekend and why?
My favorite aspect of the weekend was the networking opportunities. I truly enjoyed meeting the faculty, staff, and students at MIT as well as my peers in the program. People from all of these groups have continued to play influential roles in my life.
Do you think you benefitted from the program – did it help you in any way? Why or why not?
One way in which I benefited quite unexpectedly from the ACCESS program is by having the opportunity to practice a graduate school visitation weekend. During the actual grad school application process I had the opportunity to visit the schools I was accepted to. Having the ACCESS experience prepared me to make the most of my visitation weekends which ultimately made a huge impact on what grad school I chose to attend.
Prior to attending ACCESS, did you have plans to apply for graduate school? How did ACCESS impact your decision?
I was planning to apply for graduate school prior to attending the ACCESS program. ACCESS helped me to focus my grad school applications and make the most of my efforts. The program helped me to evaluate my strengths and weaknesses so I could take steps to fortify the weak points in my application.
Are you planning on applying to graduate school now? If so, where?
I will attend the University of California at Berkeley next fall for the PhD program in Chemical Engineering.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?
In 5 years I plan to be completing my graduate study and applying for postdoctoral and faculty positions. In 10 years I hope to be a professor, teaching and leading my own research group at the university level.
Anything else you want to share?
I highly recommend applying for this program!