Nick Bernier, ACS Chemistry
Fairfield University
2014 Goldwater Scholar

Nicholas Bernier’s work in Dr. John Miecznikowski’s laboratory at Fairfield University focused on the synthesis and characterization of model complexes for the enzyme liver alcohol dehydrogenase. Nicholas started this work in the second semester of his freshman year. In his sophomore year, Nicholas was pleased to be a co-author on a peer-reviewed manuscript about this work in the journal Polyhedron.

“My experience in Dr. Miecznikowski’s laboratory allowed me to submit a very competitive application to the Goldwater program as a sophomore,” Bernier said. “I was thrilled to learn I was awarded a Goldwater that year,” he went on to say. Bernier reports that receiving the Goldwater helped him win several research grants at Fairfield University, including two grants that allowed Nicholas to travel to Boston and San Diego to present his research in the Miecznikowski Laboratory at national meetings of the American Chemical Society.

Being a Goldwater Scholar was also a key feature on all of his applications to graduate school. Among others, Bernier was accepted into the graduate program at the University of California, Los Angeles. Now at UCLA, Nicholas is working in the Spokoyny Group on applications in materials chemistry such as atomically precise nanoparticles, hybrid materials, luminescent materials, and metal-free photocatalysis.

In his comments, Miecznikowski said about involving undergraduates in his laboratory at Fairfield University, “I am just ‘paying it forward’. In my undergraduate years at Trinity College in Harford, CT, I worked with Prof. Christine Broadbridge characterizing thin films of nanoporous silica and with Prof. Ralph O. Moyer, Jr. solving crystal structures of iridium hydrides.” “My expectation of Nicholas and other students I have mentored in my laboratory,” Miecznikowski went on to say, “is that at some point in their careers they too will ‘pay it forward’.”