Roberto Herrera smiles in a car holding a bouquet of chicken tenders.

Graduate Student Spotlight: Roberto Herrera

Categories: Research, Students

Chemistry Graduate Student Roberto Herrera describes his research and answers 20 random questions as part of the Graduate Student Spotlight series.

Originally from Baytown, Texas, Roberto Herrera is a second-year graduate student in Professor Alex Radosevich‘s research group, where he specializes in organophosphorus catalysis, with a primary focus on conducting in-depth mechanistic studies related to reactive intermediates generated by phosphorus-based catalysts. Roberto’s ultimate research goal is to leverage these findings for the discovery and design of innovative reactions.

“Mechanisms describe the fundamental steps that transform one chemical to another and are the basis for understanding how nature functions,” said Roberto. “For as long as I can remember, understanding the mechanisms of life has been a passion of mine. Upon encountering organic chemistry during my college years, I discerned a path I was eager to explore. Engaging in undergraduate research served to strengthen this inclination, propelling me to master intricate mechanistic scientific inquiries and delve into my academic curiosities in graduate school.”

As the subject of this Graduate Student Spotlight, Roberto reveals what’s on his bucket list, his irrational fear, the hobby he’d take up with limitless resources, and more!

  1. What game or movie universe would you most like to live in? What would be the worst to live in?
    I would most like to live in the magic filled The Witcher universe. Although the movies are pretty cool, I think the Mad Max universe would be awful to actually live in.
  2. What’s the most interesting documentary you’ve ever watched?
    My Octopus Teacher.
  3. Who are three of your favorite fictional characters?
    Arthur Morgan, Joe Miller, Geralt of Rivia.
  4. What’s worth spending more on to get the best?
  5. If you suddenly became a master at woodworking, what would you make?
    Given that I had the land required, I would definitely build a cozy tree house and a cabin.
  6. What irrational fear do you have?”
    Ceiling fans falling on top of me.
  7. If someone narrated your life, who would you want to be the narrator?
    Gordon Ramsay.
  8. If you could pick any career other than the one you’ve chosen, what would it be?
    Electrical engineering. I have always found electricity and its applications to be fascinating.
  9. What movie, picture, or video always makes you laugh no matter how often you watch it?
    Any video involving Twiggy the Water-Skiing Squirrel.
  10. If money and practicality weren’t a problem, what would be the most interesting way to get around town?
    Spider-webs like Spiderman.
  11. What food do you crave most often?
    Chicken tenders and Cheetos.
  12. What’s the funniest TV show you’ve ever seen?
    Smiling Friends.
  13. What is on your bucket list?
    Seeing the northern lights in Iceland.
  14. What skill would you like to master?
    Cooking actual meals other than my frequent meal of chicken tenders.
  15. What bends your mind every time you think about it?
    How many galaxies/planets are believed to exist.
  16. What are your top three favorite movies?
    Mad Max: The Road Warrior, Ford vs. Ferrari, and Logan
  17. What hobby would you get into if time and money weren’t an issue?
    Traveling all over the world.
  18. What piece of entertainment do you wish you could erase from your mind so that you could experience for the first time again?
    Playing the videogame, The Last of Us.
  19. What are the best and worst purchases you’ve ever made?
    One of the worst purchases I’ve made is when I bought a skateboard my first year of college telling myself that I would use it daily to get to classes…… it turns out that I am INCREDIBLY terrified of riding skateboards and only used it once. Also related to traveling, one of the best purchases I have made is buying hiking shoes soon after moving to Cambridge. Those shoes make walking around the city so much better, something I wasn’t accustomed to doing being from Texas and simply being able to drive everywhere very easily.
  20. If you could know the absolute and total truth to one question, what question would you ask?
    What kind of intelligent life forms exist besides us in outer space?

Many thanks to Roberto for these thoughtful answers. Stay tuned for more Graduate Student Spotlights to come!