Physics major Jairo Guerrero named GRO fellow
By Kelsey Hoff
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has selected University of Wisconsin-Parkside physics major and chemistry minor Jairo Guerrero for a Greater Research Opportunities (GRO) fellowship and internship at the agency's New England Regional Laboratory in North Chelmsford, Mass. During summer 2012, he will help the U.S. Geological Survey conduct an assessment of uranium concentrations in private wells in southeastern New Hampshire. Guerrero will be involved in all phases of sample preparation, analysis, data reduction, and data verification for metals analysis in environmental samples.
"A GRO fellowship will enable me to stop working off campus and dedicate more time to research programs that interest me like finding methods to purify drinking water from arsenic contamination," said Guerrero. Fighting arsenic contamination is a cause close to Guerrero's heart. He spent summer 2010 working on a UW-Parkside project at a village in Cambodia where the primary source of water was contaminated by arsenic.
Guerrero's EPA project will assess a potential threat to the quality of private wells in southeastern New Hampshire. It will inform residents about health and removal issues, and provide them with contact information and references so citizens can make informed decisions on mitigation and health. Guerrero is working with a senior EPA chemist; learning how an environmental chemistry lab operates, what is required to assure quality data are generated; and how analytical data fit into and support the mission of environmental and human health protection.
"The career it will lead to is all up to me," Guerrero said. "I decide what career I want to pursue. I have significant experience in analytical/environmental chemistry. However, I decided to major in physics because I want to do research in nuclear energy with the goal of discovering an environmentally friendly source of energy. I am also interested in improving nuclear waste management."Guerrero has worked hard to build a career. He came to the U.S. at the age of 15 in hopes of becoming a scientist. He learned English and enrolled at UW-Parkside at age 18. Since then, he has compiled a strong resume. He had an internship last summer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in organic chemistry, where his research entailed synthesis and characterization of UV-active compounds for polymerization reactions. He is also president of Acolitos de la Hermandad, a new campus organization he co-founded during spring semester. Acolitos de la Hermandad is affiliated with Latino America Unida, Lambda Alpha Upsilon Fraternity.