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Students from Three Countries Complete Chemistry Research at NKU

Paul Feinte could have stayed in France this summer and been paid to conduct chemistry research in his native country. Instead, the 20-year-old college student traveled to America to work with professors and students at Northern Kentucky University.

“I don’t mind not being paid,” Feinte said. “The experience is more important to me.”

Five students from three countries took part in the NKU chemistry intern program this summer. Four of them did biomedical research. Feinte was part of a group that conducted experiments on light-responsive polymers to use in solar energy panels.

“It was interesting work, and I think I've learned a lot here,” Feinte said. “A lot in my university just comes from studies where you don’t make practical applications and it’s just theory. During my weeks here, I’ve been doing a lot of practical applications and it’s really an advantage for me.”

Feinte also made the trip to improve his language skills. He studied English for 10 years in school and wanted the chance to speak it on a regular basis. After a few weeks in our country, however, he made an interesting observation.

“I realize that American is definitively not the same language as English we learn at school, so I think I'm currently learning another language,” he said.

The other international interns who took part in chemistry research at NKU this summer are Mathieu Le Loc’h from France, Alexandra Cesauan and Alina Dogar from Romania and Linda Estefania Robayo from Ecuador.

They lived in dorms on campus and went on several excursions with NKU students and faculty members while they were here. One of Feinte’s favorite outings was attending a Cincinnati Reds baseball game at Great American Ball Park.

“I had never seen a baseball game before, and I didn’t expect it to be so long,” he said. “But it was interesting to see how Americans are involved in baseball, like a religion.”

Dr. Keith Walters is the NKU chemistry professor directing the research to find materials for solar panels. This is the first summer that an international intern was assigned to his research group, but they’ve worked with some of his colleagues in the department for three years now.    

“They’ve all brought a lot,” Walters said of the interns, “not only the contributions they’ve made to advance our own research program, but I think our students (at NKU) learn a tremendous amount from interacting with people from other cultures.”

From Northern Kentucky University

Photo: The research group above includes (left to right): Corinne Basinger, Zach Ewing, Chad Beneker, Emma Jones, Paul Feinte and Dr. Keith Walters.