José (JJ) F.

Graduate Ambassador at Cornell University

Hometown: Puerto Rico


Graduate Program

Graduate Program: Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Ph.D

Anticipated Graduation Date: 2025


Institution: University of Puerto Rico-Río Piedras

Major: Chemistry

My Background

I was raised in a small town called Barranquitas that is located within the central mountains of Puerto Rico, a lovely tropical island in the Caribbean. I completed my BS degree in 2018 at the University of Puerto Rico-Río Piedras campus majoring in Chemistry. I was very lucky to have several experiences during my undergraduate degree that nurtured and fostered my curiosity for science. Some of those experiences include a job as a lab technician, becoming an NIH-RISE program fellow, summer internships (at NYU & at Cornell), mentoring other students, among others. The combination of these experiences along with the outstanding mentors that guided me through them was key to my development and further decision to pursue graduate studies.

Why I chose Cornell

I had the chance to participate in the 2017 CCMR REU program and I fell in love with the campus, the research facilities of CCMR (Cornell Center for Materials and Research), CNF (Cornell Nanoscale Facilities), Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source (CHESS), research laboratories, among others. I also enjoyed the highly collaborative and professional environment I was exposed to during that summer internship. Moreover, Cornell has a generous stipend when considering the cost of living. Lastly, as a lover of nature, Ithaca is a hidden gem with numerous falls, beautiful state parks, and hiking trails. Ithaca is Gorges!

My research interests

My first years in graduate school were focused on understanding how to make Covalent Organic Frameworks (COFs) and Metal-Organic Frameworks (MOFs) along with their building blocks or "linkers". These are usually porous and crystalline structures with many applications in catalysis, gas storage, gas separation, photovoltaics, and more. If you can dream it, a MOF or COF can make it. The next step on my journey is focused on understanding exciton formation, charge separation, charge recombination, and charge mobility in emerging photovoltaics used for solar cells such as perovskites and organic polymers.

My advice for those exploring graduate school

1) Get familiar with the technological tools that help research run smoothly, like software for reference management (Zotero, Feedly, Mendeley, etc). They will help you organize relevant articles on your chosen research field and keep you updated with recent publications. 2) Try to identify your needs and weaknesses as a scientist, do not be shy to ask the questions you find relevant to address them. 3) Seek for potential mentors; people that you look up to for specific reasons, reach out to them, and ask for advice… you are not alone! 4) Be curious and willing to explore the unknown; BELIEVE IN YOURSELF and enjoy the journey!

I'm passionate about...

Basketball Rock Climbing Outdoor Activities Hiking Biking Riding Horses Salsa Music Percussion Guitar Nature Sunsets Décima Espinela

I'm involved with...

First Generation and Low Income (FiGLI) Graduate Student Organization Graduate Student Ambassador Science Outreach Chemists for Outreach and Graduate Inclusion (COrGI)
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