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Kristi Vinkemeier ’11

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KRISTI VINKEMEIER - Aveda/SarTecWhat are you doing?

My internship is a joint project between Aveda and SarTec Corporation. We are using the Mcgyan reactor technology to synthesize new surfactant precursors from renewable resources. Surfactants are an important class of molecules and integral to the performance of shampoos, conditioners, and soaps. This new surfactant will be produced almost exclusively from renewable resources and is expected to be fully biodegradable.

What have you learned?

When you work in lab class, your professor says, “This is what you need to do, this is how you do it, and this is what you are going to get.” In industry, you don’t know what you are going to get. You have to keep strict notes. In lab you assume you’ll remember minor details, but in the real world you can’t remember from the first time to the fifth time. In industry, it’s not always clear as day what is going to happen. The learning curve is much greater.

I’ve also learned about myself. Before this, I told everyone I didn’t like research. Now I love it. I need change, so research and development and the variety of tasks I’ve been able to do are a lot of fun. Originally I was strongly interested in becoming a physician assistant, but I have started to explore the idea of getting my master’s or PhD in chemistry.

What is the value of your internship?

I can’t explain how awesome an internship is. The companies are willing to work with a student who is learning. I wish everyone could have this opportunity. You learn so much about working with people in a real chemistry lab.

If I went to a big school I don’t think I would have had the same opportunities as I have had here. Augsburg has great affiliations with companies. Here, the chemistry department [faculty] got to know me and know what I am interested in.

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