Courtesy of Juliano Ribeiro Filho

Chemistry: Juliano Ribeiro Filho

Juliano Ribeiro Filho says his passion for chemistry stems from challenging experiences in his childhood.
“At the age of nine, my parents divorced, and my mom was extremely sick,” Ribeiro Filho said. “While my brother and I were forced to move roughly 2,000 miles to live with my mother’s family, I was left feeling helpless as her condition rapidly deteriorated.”
Ribeiro Filho continued: “Seeing her situation, I’ve wondered how many people from low-income families don’t have access to effective medication. Since then, I have been motivated to study science and change this situation in my community.”
Aside from his passion to help others, Ribeiro Filho has been fascinated by chemistry from an early age.
“I remember as a kid mixing different reagents in the laundry room and showing my mom they were heating up,” Ribeiro Filho said.
Although Ribeiro Filho is invested in the world of chemistry, he shares that he hasn’t always felt entirely at home in his major.
“Especially in my freshman year, I always felt that the chemistry major contained more than 80% of pre-med students,” Ribeiro Filho said. “I’ve always known that I wanted to go to graduate school, and that finding people with interests beyond the ‘expected major for a chem student’ would be hard.”
Though finding his place with other chemistry students was sometimes challenging, Ribeiro Filho is consistently looking to learn more and is fascinated with how chemistry applies to everyday life.
When asked what his favorite aspect of learning about chemistry was, Ribeiro Filho replied: “Being able to understand complex topics that explain the little details of our not-so-simple life.”
Ribeiro Filho notes that without the help of his professors, he would not appreciate chemistry as much as he does today.
“In the first week of my freshman year, I emailed different professors requesting to be part of their research group,” Ribeiro Filho said. “Dr. Dos Santos took me under her wing and taught me how to be a scientist. I have learned and grown so much professionally and personally for more than three years doing research in her lab.”
Ribeiro Filho said he has also learned the importance of resilience through studying chemistry, as it can be incredibly challenging at times.
“Even though society usually doesn’t recognize your efforts at the beginning, someone else will in the future,” Ribeiro Filho said.
After graduation, Ribeiro Filho will be working at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a cancer research assistant. After that, he plans to join a Ph.D. program. He shared his fears and excitement regarding his future.
“I am afraid that I will be consumed by my responsibilities,” Ribeiro Filho said. “I am scared about adult life. I feel that as you age you become less capable of relating to other people. But I am excited to meet new cultures, taste new foods and talk to new people.”

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