St. John’s Student Joins Prestigious NSF Research Experience Program for Undergraduates

Cynthia Adebayo headshot
July 25, 2022

Cynthia Adebayo came to St. John’s University from her home in London, England, to embark on a true interdisciplinary experience. As an undergraduate with a dual major in Chemistry and Global Development and Sustainability, she recently sought to maximize her development in both fields by applying for the National Science Foundation’s Research Experience for Undergraduate (REU) program, receiving funding through George Washington University.

“The experience you get in your respective field, as an undergraduate, is highly beneficial and can be influential in your plans after graduating,” Cynthia noted, adding that her research experience focuses on advancing chemistry research by integrating green chemistry and policy. “With the state of the environment and climate, it is imperative for our policymakers and leaders to understand what is going on scientifically, and be able to turn to science for potential solutions.”

However, she stressed that the research used to develop these solutions needs to consist of green and sustainable chemistry so as not to exacerbate any ongoing environmental crises. “My current research project hopes to address the future of energy storage by developing a next-generation battery from sustainably sourced materials,” she observed.

“Among Cynthia’s many outstanding qualities is her creativity, which enables her to connect seemingly disparate disciplines such as chemistry and biology, to the arts, economics, and even psychology,” noted Konrad Tuchscherer, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of History, and Director, External Scholarships and Fellowships. “She identifies challenges and problems, and then explores solutions from a multitude of angles. She is truly a renaissance woman.”

Cynthia stressed how important St. John’s faculty mentors were in helping her apply for the research experience.

“The support I received from my professors and mentors was genuinely incredible: from proofreading my essay questions to providing recommendations for me, to just encouraging me whenever my faith may have lacked. I will forever appreciate the lengths they went to assist me throughout my application processes.”

She singled out Dr. Tuchscherer and Christine Salboudis, Ph.D., Adjunct Assistant Professor of Philosophy, as “invaluable” participants in this journey.

Cynthia will begin the fall semester as a Clare Booth Luce Scholar, a St. John’s program which selects female students on the basis of their demonstrated record of achievement as well as their potential to make significant contributions when they become established in their fields. “My involvement with this scholarship program will support me in my continued progression in the STEM field and connect me with a community of women in science,” she noted. 

Cynthia Adebayo in St. Thomas More Church

“Combined with my REU experience this summer, I will have a greater understanding of the types of chemistry I want to pursue further. It should also give me an idea of how to combine my studies in science and global development to focus on sustainable solutions and innovations to improve global well-being.”

Initially, Cynthia only planned to study Chemistry. “When I decided that I wanted to explore a second major, Global Development and Sustainability was the perfect complementary program for me,” she stressed.

“The support and advice I receive from faculty and students in both departments definitely eases the pressures of being a double major. That’s one of the biggest parts of my experience as a St. John’s: the community. Growing into an active member of this community has allowed me to make the most of my college experience, meet the most genuine people, and take leaps in my personal growth.

“My mindset and world perspective has transformed in my two years here. I have been pushed to keep exploring, to keep asking questions, and to never count myself out. If those around you believe that you are capable, you too must also believe.”