When Steven Jacek was choosing where to go to college, he wanted a challenging school with research opportunities, strong community and good financial support. He found a match right next door at UMass Lowell in the Honors College.
“The little perks of the honors college—first priority in housing and class selection—are almost enough to justify the extra work required to be a member,” says Jacek. “For me, though, the most valuable part was living in Eames Hall, with other students in the program. Whenever I talk to my friends at other schools about campus life, I can’t help but use the word ‘family.’ I live with students as determined and focused on academics as I am, and yet they’re the nicest, most sociable and all around best people I've ever met.”
Jacek has found camaraderie in the lab as well, as a summer research co-op student working with Prakash Rai studying the use of nanomedicine theranostics to tailor breast cancer treatment for patients.
“The main reason that I chose UMass Lowell was because they’re so focused on helping students—even freshmen—build connections in their fields through significant research and work opportunities,” says Jacek.  
Daily work in the lab included learning the theories and mechanics behind equipment or processes and conducting experiments using the new skills. Jacek worked on manufacturing drug-delivery particles at the nano scale and documenting their different processes. Scaling up the processes with reliable results was an important learning outcome for the lab team.
“My co-op was a slam-dunk for me because I’m interested in nanomaterials engineering. Working at the nano scale so early in my education is magnificent,” says Jacek. “Also, working with Dr. Rai is a great way to start my career, because his work is well-known and he often collaborates with students on important research.”