George Salazar

George Salazar

Majors: Chemistry, Physics

My name is Greg Salazar, and I am a member of the class of 2014. I majored in chemistry (B.S.) and physics (B.A.).

Where are you now?

Right now, I’m living in Tampa, Florida. I attend the University of South Florida (USF).

What field are you studying?

My field is Applied Physics. My advisor, Dr. Anuja Datta, and I are working on brand new synthesis techniques for various perovskite oxides. We are interested in fabricating these materials with cheap, earth-abundant materials using a chemical/physical approach and in studying their electrical and optical properties. These are a fascinating family of materials that have applications with solar cells, photocatalysts, sensors, and other uses.

Did you do anything before graduate school?

Right before I went to graduate school, I had a brief stint as an Analytical Lab Technician at Cool Planet Energy Systems. My main job was analyzing the components of fuels the company was producing using Gas Chromatography—an instrument the chemistry department owns. I typically worked alongside Chemical Engineers and their team in the development of bio-based fuels.

What is your end goal?

My end goal is to be happy. I’m really interested in obtaining my Ph.D. and earning a position at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. I want to commit myself to developing environmentally safe, clean, and inexpensive materials to solve energy problems. I can later see myself working in public policy, advocating for science and public awareness.

How did Cal Lutheran help to prepare you for your current career path?

Cal Lutheran was a tremendous place. The opportunity to work side by side with faculty members was an important aspect of my road. My mentors Dr. Quinlan and Dr. Shaw and Professor Holden were instrumental in my personal and academic development. My mentors were crucial for my success to be the first in my family to graduate from college.

The small campus made it easy to get involved. I enjoyed ASCLUG and helped start the ACS (American Chemical Society) Student Chapter. These leadership opportunities really help you grow as an independent thinker and help you mature.

What advice would you give to current or prospective students?

My advice is two-fold. My first set of advice is to only do science if you’re curious why things work, ask too many questions, or have passion for problem solving. Then it’s to find a problem about the world that gets you excited to solve. I believe doing science otherwise can break you down early. You can help yourself by talking to the faculty—they’re really approachable.

Next, it’s to go to Career Services and help set yourself up for an internship freshman year. Yes, you may think it’s too early, but you want to do this right away. This can help as a stepping stone for a career, graduate school, or whatever you choose.

Why was Cal Lutheran the right school for you?

I always tell people I chose Cal Lutheran over a larger school because I wanted to work towards something big. At Cal Lutheran, you’re not just a fish in the sea, you can be an important part of the university. It won’t be easy, but some effort and motivation will open doors at this school for you to explore your own dreams and help you grow as a person.

What do you miss the most about being a Cal Lutheran student?

I miss running into people every day. It was awesome how I could see everyone and catch up with the most interesting things they’re doing. A random meet up at Jamba can end with an old friend at Chinese New Year or a simple walk down the spine. You really learn a lot about yourself talking to other people and seeing things from different perspectives.