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Koret Fellowship Program

Christopher Esparza

Physics & History major, Class of 2018

Under the mentorship of Dr. Richard P. Barber Jr. from the Department of Physics at Santa Clara University, I was able to provide my knowledge and skills to contribute towards the following research: “Structure–function relationships of fullerene esters in polymer solar cells: unexpected structural effects on lifetime and efficiency.”

I experienced several challenges and shortcomings, but luckily none of them were unexpected. I have had previous experiences with scientific research, as I am building off of last year’s research and data sets. I have continued to learn how polymers play a role in solar cells and built on my analysis of the electrical output of each solar cell once they were produced. Dr. Barber was incredibly helpful, as he walked me through the process of analyzing the solar cells and explained how the solar cells worked down to the chemical level.

I have been able to continue the research experience throughout my academic school year by continuing to alter the polymers and continuing to expand on our data sets. This experience has given me the opportunity to continue to see what scientific research is like, work closely with the physics department, and recognize the work and knowledge that is necessary to produce data that can be used to eventually publish an article in a scientific journal.

I am thankful for being able to learn so much outside of the classroom and apply my knowledge in an environment that produces data towards new knowledge. I am excited to continue research with Dr. Barber and Santa Clara’s Physics Department, as getting a glimpse of the scientific world has inspired me to continue my education in hopes of one day earning a PhD in Physics. Lastly, I am especially thankful to all of those who worked closely with the LEAD Fellowship and encourage their continued support, as it gives students like myself opportunities to expand in knowledge and experience that would have otherwise been out of reach.