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Chemistry student Juan Martinez focused on natural medicine, pursuing graduate school

December 8, 2009
Rommel McClaney

Juan Martinez hopes to conduct research on indigenous natural medicine and teach chemistry to future generations. The junior CSU student is all about improving himself and giving back.

Undergrad's chemistry research could reduce kidney, bladder stones  

Juan Maritnez first became interested in attending CSU during his sophomore year in high school through a program called Upward Bound. Martinez and his family had been living in Denver for over 15 years after moving there from California.
"I decided to come to CSU because I liked the fact that people are friendly and that there is a lot of support for students here," says Martinez. "I'm fortunate enough to have people in my life that have always encouraged me to get the most out of whatever I decided to do."

Big plans

When deciding to declare a major, Juan had no trouble because he already knew what he wanted to do in the long run. Juan hopes to conduct research on indigenous natural medicine and teach chemistry to future generations. Although, he hopes to not just limit himself to one thing.

"After graduation I will be applying to graduate school here in the U.S. and abroad, probably somewhere in Europe. I will also be applying for the JET program as well." JET is The Japanese Exchange and Teaching Program. 

Group supports Martinez and other students

Martinez is a part of the CSU Chapter of SACNAS. SACNAS stands for the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science, but it is open to any student regardless of their cultural background says Martinez.

The CSU-SACNAS chapter was formally established in February 2007, the first of its kind in the state of Colorado.

Since the CSU chapter is the first of its kind in Colorado and has helped start other chapters at CU, Metro State, CCD, and UCD, Martinez is honored to represent and be a part of SACNAS.

"It feels great to be part of a community that is there for you when you need it. There are so many opportunities out there that are waiting for us."

Martinez's research poster presentation lands national recognition

This year's SACNAS National conference was held Oct. 15-18 in Dallas, Texas. Martinez along with junior Mathematics major with a concentration in Math Information Andreea Luisa Erciulescu won the poster presentation awards for their research in their discipline.

"The research I presented was about indigenous natural medicine." Juan and Professor Stephen Thompson, chemistry professor and the director of Center for Science, Math, and Technology Education, or CSMATE, had been working with three heartwoods collected from Mexico and the Philippines:

  • Eysenhardtia Polystachya
  • Haematoxylum Brasiletto
  • Pterocarpus Indicus

Thompson has been Martinez's  undergraduate research mentor ever since Juan's second semester of his sophomore year. Dr. Thompson and Martinez had been doing research over the summer. They are studying the similarities between the heartwoods and their unique fluorescent compounds.

They hope to continue our research to isolate the main compound(s) that reduce kidney and bladder stones and publish new collected data as well.