Celebrating the graduates of Fall 2021: Isaac Antwi

Meet some of the amazing members of the graduating class of Fall 2021 from the Faculty of Science.

Andrew Lyle - 15 November 2021

Meet Isaac Antwi, member of the class of Fall 2021 graduating with a PhD in chemistry.

Meet Isaac Antwi, member of the class of Fall 2021 graduating with a PhD in chemistry.

This year, the University of Alberta is celebrating the achievements of our graduates with a virtual convocation ceremony on November 19. As we acknowledge the achievements of our graduating class, we’re sharing just a few of the amazing stories of our graduates.

Meet Isaac Antwi, graduating with a PhD in chemistry, and hear from his as he shares how his undergraduate studies in Ghana seeded his dream to attend the U of A, how faculty and staff helped him along the way, and his advice for students beginning their own academic journeys.

Congratulations, Isaac! 

What led you to pick the University of Alberta for your studies?

The U of A has always been where I wanted to pursue my graduate career. The first time I heard of it was during my undergraduate studies in Ghana. During my undergraduate training I had a lecturer who was an alumnus of the U of A and I loved his teaching style and had always wanted to obtain my training from the same school. I could not have chosen a better place to study chemistry than the U of A, which has outstanding faculty with high-profile research interest.

Tell us about your experience in the Faculty of Science.

Initially, I enrolled in my graduate program as a masters student, then changed into the PhD program after meeting the department's requirements. I have always been interested in organic synthesis even though I didn't have any research experience, but I was always eager to learn and kept in mind that the extra effort would have to be put in to achieve this goal.

It wouldn't have been possible for me to achieve academic success and a successful career without the excellent mentorship from Dr. John Vederas who was interested in both my academic success and my career goals in the long run. I had the privilege of being part of the Vederas Research Group where I learned a lot from my fellow lab mates and graduate students from different research groups. In addition to the exceptional faculty, we have an excellent group of non-teaching staff members that are friendly and always ready to help. 

Having the opportunity to be a teaching assistant also helped me develop my public speaking skills, and also provided me with an opportunity to mentor undergraduates. 

My experience at the Faculty of Science was more than a home for me. I met great people there, and would not have been able to complete my program without them. 

What is one of your favourite memories from your time at the U of A?

One of my favourite memories involves our annual research camp at Pigeon Lake, where every research group member presents their research. It is always a great time to learn new things and discover what each member is working on. 

What advice do you have for current and future students in the Faculty of Science?

Don't overwork yourself, care for your mental, physical and emotional health, and ask people for advice — don't be afraid to ask because no one knows everything, we all have limitations.

How have you spent your time during COVID-19 distancing?

My research laboratory was working on a project related to COVID-19, of which I was a part, so I was practically in the lab, something I love doing. 

What's next after graduation?

Currently, I am working as a postdoctoral research associate at Yale University, in the lab of Prof. Scott J. Miller in the Department of Chemistry