Joniel is a student in the PREM program at CHESS. With his first trip to the continental United States, he says that he didn't have the urge to go outside the island of Puerto Rico, but after his experience at Cornell, he is now excited to explore other research opportunities outside of UPR.
The PIPOXS beamline has enabled many research opportunities for PREM students at CHESS. Students studying energy materials at the University of Puerto Rico have been able to further their research by working with CHESS scientists at the very beamline dedicated to studying such materials.
Joniel Mendez, an undergraduate student from UPR, took advantage of the PREM relationship - as well as a leap of faith - as he traveled off the island for the very first time to perform research at CHESS.
It has been a great experience professionally, to gain experience as a researcher. I’d say it is a pretty good start.
Joniel was recommended by a professor at UPR who encouraged him to spend ten weeks of his summer on the Cornell University campus. “I couldn’t say no to that,” says Joniel. “It has been a great experience professionally, to gain experience as a researcher. I’d say it is a pretty good start.”
With Cornell’s connection to the University of Puerto Rico through the PREM program, Joniel says that he can continue this research when he returns back to the University of Puerto Rico, which will be a great benefit to CHESS.
Joniel is spending his summer working on a solid-state reactor, which will allow researchers to study samples at high temperatures at the beamline. Currently, users of PIPOXS can study materials at cryogenic and room temperatures. The ability to work at high temperatures will expand the capabilities of the beamline. .
Joniel is also researching the different types of capillaries that will be used with this reactor. Joniel explains that the quartz capillaries must have a high melting point, but also be super thin and fragile in order to allow X-rays to pass through the material.
I remember being amazed by it, and thinking ‘wow, they do real science here’.
A memorable experience for Joniel is seeing the PIPOXS beamline for the first time. “All of the scientific equipment was on display,” he says. “I didn’t understand any of it, but I remember being amazed by it, and thinking ‘wow, they do real science here’.”
Outside of the lab, Joniel says that he has created some lasting relationships and memories around the Ithaca and the Cornell campus. “This is my first time traveling outside of Puerto Rico, and everything I see around me is new and really good.” He highlights that the tour to Niagara Falls was especially memorable.
“I have never really had the desire to go outside the island, and now that I have gone outside the island, I want to do it more. I really like it over here and I definitely want to travel more, especially with more internship or research opportunities.”
If others were thinking about coming to Cornell for research opportunities, Joniel says that he would definitely recommend it. “Even if it wasn’t Cornell, and it was a different university, having the experience to expand yourself and experience new places. It is worth it,” he says. “Yes, it is a lot of work, and I have learned a lot, but I am so happy I took advantage of this opportunity.”
“It feels like everyone wants to see us succeed, but we have to help ourselves as well," he says. "I am forever grateful for this opportunity."