In the News



Emmanuel's Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Dr. Juan Duchimaza Heredia, was selected for a unique research partnership program at Princeton University this summer - and two Chemistry undergraduates, Gwyn Gagnon '26 and Megan Reilly '26 - are joining in on the journey too.

For the trio, participation in the program will open a unique window of opportunity to collaborate, gain new perspectives and grow in the field. They’ll hope to shed some light on Duchimaza Heredia’s ongoing research – investigating carbon dots and the source of their fluorescence. 

Princeton’s Visiting Faculty Research Partnership program welcomes visiting scholars from smaller programs and institutions to network and collaborate with Princeton faculty. The opportunity includes access to the labs, facilities and advising resources, in addition to professional development workshops and info sessions for the visiting students.

(From left to right:) Reilly '26, Gagnon '26, and Dr. Duchimaza Heredia will be representing the Emmanuel College Chemistry Department at Princeton's Visiting Faculty Research Partnership program this summer.

Duchimaza Heredia is a computational physical chemist, meaning he develops and makes models of chemical processes through computer simulation. Computational methods are used to provide a more detailed view of chemical interactions that are otherwise impossible to see or difficult to conceptualize without a visual. 

“It’s so cool to make and be able to see those animations – that’s what really spoke to me,” said Duchimaza Heredia. 

He’s been researching carbon dots – specific chains of carbon that produce light and glow – for about a year and a half. Carbon dots are cheap and easy to work with as a source of fluorescent light which means they have a variety of uses, Duchimaza Heredia explained. 

Partner programs like this aren’t super common, Duchimaza Heredia said, as collaborating on research in the sciences usually doesn’t take shape until meeting people at multiple conferences. In this case, the program is a “great launching pad” for that collaboration.

The research program will partner Duchimaza Heredia, Gagnon and Reilly with Dr. Gregory Scholes, William S. Tod Professor of Chemistry of Chemistry at Princeton University, Fellow of the Royal Society in London and Director of BioLEC, a Department of Energy (DOE) research center. 

Working with Dr. Scholes, who studies how molecular systems interact with light, Duchimaza Heredia looks forward to gaining new insight and perspectives on his own research. It also means Gagnon and Reilly get a chance at researching in an Ivy League setting still fairly early on in their college careers.

“Opportunities to dive into research are readily available here at Emmanuel. It’s a step up [for the students] to do that research and be able to apply it in the future,” Duchimaza Heredia said.

Gagnon jumped at the opportunity after having previously worked with Dr. Duchimaza Heredia.  “I was one hundred percent on board for this,” Gagnon said. When she found out she’d gotten into the program, she said “I was jumping up and down the dorm halls – I called everyone I knew!” 

She then sought out a partner and found Reilly, another Chemistry undergraduate. They both shared excitement for getting the Emmanuel Chemistry department’s name out in the world even more: “It’s like we’re putting Emmanuel on the map!” Reilly said. 

In addition to the research, they will have an opportunity to work on their public speaking by presenting at an end-of-summer research symposium and reception. They’ll be regularly sharing their findings in front of groups while at Princeton as well, getting them into the habit of presenting their work. 

Both said they feel like this chance to research at Princeton gets them a leg up on future competition – and hopefully the connections they’re able to build can get them a “foot in the door,” when it comes to post-graduation or career opportunities.

“Hopefully he [Scholes] becomes a mentor too,” said Reilly.