Summer Program Plants the Seed for Research Passion in Student

Charles Irving | Undergraduate | Forensic & Investigative Sciences; Chemistry

(UPDATE: Irving recently graduated with two bachelor’s degrees and was the recipient of the "Outstanding Research Award" within the Forensic & Investigative Sciences program. His next step is to complete a master’s degree in Forensic & Investigative Sciences at IUPUI this Fall.)

Project SEED

Charles Irving got an early start discovering his passion. As a participant in the Indianapolis branch of American Chemical Society's Project SEED, a program that provides high school students an opportunity to explore scientific research, Irving was matched his junior year of high school with IUPUI Professor Rajesh Sardar,

Now finishing up his final year of undergrad at IUPUI, Irving has over five years of experience investigating mysteries in science through research with Sardar. Growing up while working in the laboratory gave Irving some of his proudest experiences while in college.

“When I co-authored my first scientific article with professor Sardar’s research group I felt like that was my first step in the real professional world of science. I felt proud that I had taken such a step so early in life.”

The discovery of a passion

Working with Sardar proved heavily influential to Irving. Initially wanting to be involved in criminal justice as a district attorney, experience with scientific research shifted Irving’s path. By studying forensic and investigative sciences Irving was able to combine both his passion for the law and science.

In Sardar’s research group, Irving studies nanoparticles, a type of microscopic matter, with applications in solar cells that are used in clean energy and biosensors that test blood glucose levels in people with diabetes. 

Irving says he’s learned that research is about not only sharing information but also giving something back, “researchers have a symbiotic relationship in that we all share new information and take existing theories and concepts to discover new applications. I’m glad to be a part of it.” 

Giving back

Growing up as an Army brat, Irving cites the 21st Century Scholars Program as the predominant reason he was able to afford, and therefore attend college. Because of the impact his experiences had on him, Irving found it important to help other students to succeed. For the past two years, Irving worked with the 21st Century Scholars Program as a peer mentor helping freshmen transition from high school to college life.

“It was great knowing that I was helping others and giving back to a campus that had given so much to me over the years. By spending time with [the students] I got to learn a lot of different things about various cultures and myself.”