Róża Okoń

Róża’s first contact with science was the ‘UNIKIDS’ Children’s University. Over subsequent years, her interests evolved and, while in high school, she knew that science was something she definitely wanted to pursue in her professional career. She is currently studying at the University of Warsaw. Asked about her biggest successes to date, she mentions winning a research internship grant at Harvard University and receiving funding to present her research findings at a conference in Athens.

She is most fascinated by theoretical and computational chemistry. – I took courses in physics and chemistry as part of my inter-faculty studies at the University of Warsaw. I learned how to solve simple problems by translating them into the language of mathematics. Its complex yet subtle structure, which humans have been developing for thousands of years, has a lot of hidden potential. You just have to know to use it – she highlights.

Róża applies computational chemical methods for her studies in the area of prebiotic chemistry. With her research, she wants to contribute to understanding how life originated on Earth. – In my project, I focus on studying the effects of ultraviolet radiation on chemicals that may have been present on the young Earth during the emergence of life. I want to find out whether this type of light could destroy less stable molecules, acting as a selective factor in the process of chemical evolution – she explains.

In the future, she would simply like to “do good science in the best environment she can find.” Róża is considering doing a PhD program in the United States and, before that, applying for a Fulbright scholarship. – Harvard University and University of Chicago conduct very advanced research in prebiotic chemistry. I’ve had my part in facilitating greater networking opportunities between the research teams at both universities. Perhaps this is going to be my path, but staying in Europe is an option as well.

Róża stresses that participation in the ADAMED SmartUP program helped her choose science as her life’s path, believe in herself, and discover that she can accomplish more than she had thought possible. She encourages her younger colleagues to follow their curiosity about the world and strive for their goals.