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Paubox Kahikina Scholarship Recipient 2022: Montana Lagat

Paubox Kahikina Scholarship Recipient 2022: Montana Lagat

The Paubox Kahikina Scholarship helps Native Hawaiian students pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and Tech in general. Its purpose is to offer financial support and create a strong network for these students. The scholarship makes education more affordable and connects students with professionals, giving them valuable opportunities to learn and grow in their chosen STEM or Tech fields. This scholarship is about more than just money; it's about building a community and empowering Native Hawaiian students to succeed in STEM or Tech careers.

See also: The big ideas behind the Paubox Kahikina Scholarship

As a 2022 scholarship recipient, Montana Lagat has been studying chemical engineering at Stanford University. Here is an update from Montana Lagat: 

“Aloha! My name is Montana Lagat and I am a rising sophomore at Stanford University. Throughout this past school year, I have developed a new interest in Materials Science & Engineering, specifically within the field of biomaterials. The interdisciplinary nature of materials science (MatSci) allows researchers to combine knowledge of chemistry, physics, biology, and engineering to create new, innovative tools for biomedical applications. This excites me because I find great value in taking a collaborative, multidisciplinary approach to optimize the functions of emerging biomaterials. I hope to dive deeper into MatSci throughout my college career so that I can leverage my acquired knowledge and skills to improve pharmaceutical drugs and drug delivery systems that can be applied to major health concerns that significantly impact my local community in Hawaiʻi.

One way I am learning more about different applications of materials science, while also gaining valuable research experience the field, is by participating in the 2023 Materials Science Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Program this summer. The 10-week summer program culminates in a research poster symposium that showcases the individual research project conclusions of each student participant. I am currently conducting research in the Appel Lab under my REU mentor who is a Postdoctoral Researcher. My project is focused on creating surfactant polymers that can better stabilize insulin formulations with the ultimate goals of increasing the shelf-life of insulin treatments for type 1 diabetics and minimizing the cost of synthesizing those polymers. 

To investigate this, different polymerization methods (RAFT, RAFT/FRP hybrid) will be tested to assess the capability of cheaper polymerization methods to mimic the behavior of well-performing surfactant polymers. Additionally, polymer molecular weights will also be varied to see what combination of polymerization method and polymer composition would lead to the most cost-effective and best-stabilizing polymers for use in future insulin formulations for type 1 diabetics. My finished poster presentation will be shared on campus along with other members of the 2023 MatSci REU cohort on September 1st.

The Paubox Kahikina STEM Scholarship encourages me to strive for both academic and personal success as well as to positively represent Hawaiʻi in new communities. As a recipient of this scholarship, I have access to a great network consisting of professional advisors and fellow Native Hawaiian scholarship recipients. Knowing that I am part of this wonderful community strengthens my confidence in reaching out to local STEM industry leaders for mentorship and advice in general. This confidence in networking also translates to greater self-confidence in trying new things and approaching failure from a different, more innovative perspective in numerous contexts. Thanks to the generosity of the Paubox organization, I have been connected to valuable networking opportunities, grown to be more confident overall, and am also able to pursue a quality education at Stanford without significant financial burden or stress. It is an incredible gift to be able to have access to the breadth of resources and opportunities that I do and this is a direct result of the Paubox Kahikina STEM Scholarship.”

Read: Montana Lagat | Paubox Kahikina STEM Scholarship 2023 Update 



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