Cal State Fullerton
Titans of Promise

Love for Science Leads to Passion for Teaching

May 26, 2020

“I enjoy teaching undergraduates in the lab, and it has helped strengthen my ability to explain things to others. Watching a student's confidence grow is one of my favorite experiences.”

— Alex Ku, is a graduate student studying organic chemistry

Growing up in Mission Viejo, I loved watching educational channels like Animal Planet or Discovery and I was inspired by my elementary science classes. I chose Cal State Fullerton for my undergraduate work because it was nearby and affordable.

It’s also where I discovered my true passion for science.

As I took more science classes, I realized that I looked forward to attending my chemistry classes and I found that taking exams gave me the opportunity to test my knowledge.

When it came time to graduate with my bachelors in biochemistry, I knew there was still a lot for me to learn. That’s when I decided to apply for the master's program focusing on organic chemistry.

I enjoy teaching undergraduates in the lab, and it has helped strengthen my ability to explain things to others. Watching a student's confidence grow is one of my favorite experiences.

A challenge I faced during my graduate studies was finding a research adviser and lab to do my work. Nicholas Salzameda, associate professor of organic and bioorganic chemistry, took me into his lab and played a supportive role that I hadn’t had before then. Through his leadership, I have grown as a synthetic chemist and as a person.

I still have a lot of work to do, and there will always be room for improvement; but, I've come to realize the importance of having supportive mentors. I learned that challenging yourself might be uncomfortable, but it really is a catalyst for growth.


Alex Ku is continuing his research in botulism, an extremely rare but potentially fatal illness caused by a toxin. He hopes to find a career in pharmaceuticals after he finishes his Master's program at Cal State Fullerton.