Update: July 21, 2016
Sajulga’s first paper has just been published in the Journal of Chromatography A with co-authors professor Dwight Stoll, and collaborators Lena Jeong, Steve Forte, and professor Sarah Rutan (Virginia Commonwealth University.) More information is available here.
Update: April 1, 2016
Ray Sajulga has been awarded an honorable mention for the Barry Goldwater Scholarship, a prestigious national scholarship that over 1,150 students are nominated for each year.
The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was established by Congress in 1986 to honor Senator Barry Goldwater, who served his country for 56 years as a soldier and statesman, including 30 years of service in the U.S. Senate.
The purpose of the Foundation is to provide a continuing source of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians, and engineers by awarding scholarships to college students who intend to pursue research careers in these fields.
When Gustavus Adolphus College student Ray Sajulga started doing on-campus research during November of his first year, he had no idea that he would be able to combine his love of science and computers both inside and outside the lab. Now a junior, Sajulga has paired his passions in a unique way that he hopes will lead him to medical school or graduate studies in the sciences.
A chemistry and biochemistry double major who is considering biology and computer science minors, Sajulga wrote a computer program that allows researchers to simulate high-performance liquid chromatography experiments. The program crunches data and provides analysis that predicts the behavior of the chemical components. By saving time and resources, Sajulga’s modeling software allows researchers to focus on concepts that need to be explored in more detail through experiments. The experiments are much more expensive and time-consuming than the simulations, so using the simulations as a guide to do the “right” experiments can save time and money.
“Ray has a pretty rare combination of skills,” chemistry professor Dwight Stoll said. “The modeling simulation he’s developing gives us valuable tools to make progress on research.”
After spending the summer after his first year doing research with Stoll, Sajulga completed an internship focused on the use of computer programming in biochemical studies at the University of Minnesota before his junior year. Though the experience benefited his computer science skills, it reinforced his desire to study science or medicine.
“I want the balance of doing science but working with people,” Sajulga explained. “I like computer science but I love to help people. I want to serve as well as lead.”
During his time at Gustavus, Sajulga has led and served as a Collegiate Fellow resident advisor, co-president of CHOICE substance-free housing, member of Study Buddies, and a calculus and chemistry tutor. He’s also played alto saxophone in the Gustavus Wind Orchestra, Adolphus Jazz Ensemble, a saxophone quartet, and a jazz combo.
If that wasn’t enough, Sajulga also keeps pretty busy with research. He’s currently collaborating with Stoll and a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University on an article for the Journal of Chromatography A, a peer-reviewed analytical chemistry publication. Stoll has also presented the results of Sajulga’s work at national research meetings, including the Pittsburgh Conference.
“The science program here is exceptional. Professors go out of their way to connect you with opportunities and help with your research,” Sajulga said.
Stoll returned the praise. “Ray is humble and curious, and has extraordinary intuition,” the professor said. “He’s always willing to help.”
Sajulga, a Chaska, Minn. native, considered attending Bowdoin, Brown, Northwestern, and Stanford before choosing Gustavus. A first-generation American with parents who emigrated from the Philippines in 1994, he liked the location, personal attention from professors, and tight-knit community that he found “on the hill.”
As he prepares for one more year at Gustavus and sets his sight on the future, Sajulga offers advice for other students and future Gusties. “Strive to get past your comfort zone every day,” he said.
“Knock on doors and seek out opportunities,” Stoll agreed. “Working with smart people who get involved in multiple facets of the community are part of the fun of being a professor.”
Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin