|Professor mixes research and teaching in career|
|Written by Cade Boland, Daily Vidette Staff Writer|
|Thursday, 13 September 2012 16:24|
David L. Cedeño, ISU chemistry associate professor, did not always have chemistry in mind for his future.
“I wanted to be a physician. Back in my native country, Colombia, if you do not have money to go to college, then you could enter state universities for a very low cost by taking a rigorous admission exam … I signed up for medicine and psychology as my first option and chemistry as a second one,” Cedeño said.
“My first semester went okay, although the great teachers had sparked my interest into chemistry and I started enjoying it,” he said.
After his graduation, he did not immediately go into doctoral studies, rather he opted to go into the chemistry industry.
“I worked for Colgate-Palmolive in my native country as a product development chemist and then for a smaller local soap company as a product development manager,” Cedeño said.
After three years of work, Cedeño continued further into his studies.
“I came to the U.S. as a Ph.D. student at Baylor Univesity in Texas. The experience there and later at Northwestern University, as a postdoctoral fellow, were inspiring ones and made me decide to become a professor at an institution like Illinois State University,” he said.
Now as a professor, Cedeño divides his time between leading classes and two major research projects.
On teaching, he said, “I think most people do not realize how much time one invests in preparing lectures and laboratories … It is quite interesting that even though I have taught a course many times, I still feel the need to make notes on the lecture material. I find this to be a helpful exercise because it allows me to reflect on the topic and how I may improve my teaching of it so learning is more effective.”
His laboratory prep is not easier, he explained. “Teaching laboratories requires more time at the beginning of the semester because the teaching assistant and I must make sure that all experiments are going to work seamlessly.”
Cedeño’s current research projects could also provide some amazing benefits to the world.
“We study some chemical compounds that can be energized with light so they eventually power oxygen in a way that makes it more reaction and oxidizing than the oxygen molecules we regularly breathe in. If we are able to deliver these compounds to a specific diseased tissue in a human body, we could use it to get rid of the diseased tissue. This type of treatment is called ‘photodynamic therapy,’” Cedeño explained
He also explained the benefits of the project, “[ISU and the Universidad de Antioquia in Colombia are] aiming to find a photodynamic therapy treatment for a tropical disease called Leishmaniasis. This is an infective disease that affects millions in tropical and subtropical regions of the world.”
His other work includes the manipulations of transition metals and Olefins, such as ethylene, a chemical compound frequently used in manufacturing.
“Interestingly, ethylene happens to be a plant hormone involved in regulating fruit ripening and flower aging,” he said. “Our research also seeks to provide cues to find compounds that may prevent the copper-ethylene interaction to happen so that we can slow down fruit ripening or flower aging,”
His life does not stop with chemistry though, and when he has the free time, relaxation is on his mind.
“I like to spend time with my wife and two daughters, travelling when possible and enjoying friends and family who may visit from far away,” Cedeño said.