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Mentor Comments on Alvin Kumarga

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“…Alvin spent time this summer in Ithaca, NYC and Cambridge, MA on a variety of projects. Although he is a chemical engineer by training, we promised Alvin that he would be developing other skills this summer. Apart from a single Reynolds number calculation (pretty standard fare for ChemE’s), he was on vacation from his major.

Alvin had not heard the term fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) before this summer, but we asked him to learn enough in time to make a presentation to a VC by the end of the summer. This VC, now a principal at a Boston-based firm, also worked for HST as an intern while he was a PhD candidate. Alvin prepared for a dress rehearsal with the principals of HST to make sure that he was ready for the presentation to the VC and a scientist at another Boston-based biomedical company. He had to understand our technology as well as the leading edge of FISH technology well enough to communicate it to a knowledgeable audience. We did not mince words with Alvin following his dress rehearsal, because we had decided he was going to talk about 90% of the slides. He…made a fine presentation, reflecting his thorough preparation of the material.

We also needed help this summer with an extremely sensitive instrument for explosives detection. Alvin did a nice job helping us to develop protocols for this instrument – the analyte quantities we handle are so tiny that they are not explosive, but it still was essential to have good lab technique!

He also helped us with the initial steps of organizing voluminous data sets from our optical lab and looked into product promotions for an upcoming refresh of our website. Comments from our consultant, a PhD candidate in explosives on Alvin’s work in the lab – “Alvin is doing a phenomenal job! …I had my doubts about the reproducibility of the Chromatoprobe technique and the linearity of the response to the analyte, but Alvin has sufficiently assuaged my fears.”

In sum it was a full experience this summer for Alvin with benefits both ways. He had an opportunity to work with several people at our company who all are grateful to the Kessler Fellows Program for making it possible. The quality of the individuals that emerge from the Kessler selection process make it likely that small companies like HST benefit greatly from the contributions of a Fellow in a very compressed time frame...”

- Kenneth Wang, Co-founder, Hybrid Silica Technologies