Behind the Test Tube: Q&A

Ignacio Gustin—Graduate Student, Franco Group

A poster featuring the person's image and the answer to two profile questions.

Where is home/where did you grow up?

 Home used to be a small city in La Patagonia, Argentina,  where I grew up and were part of my family lives now. But now home is whenever Maga and my cat are, doesn’t really matter where that is.

Why did you choose chemistry as a career?

My journey to choosing chemistry as a career is quite funny because I was actually pretty bad at chemistry in high school. What captured my interest, though, was my insatiable curiosity about how things worked. The more I learned about chemistry, the more I was fascinated by its ability to explain so many cool effects and phenomena around us. This fascination led me down the rabbit hole to understand how the quantum world works. This quest for understanding, to push the boundaries of what we know, keeps me hooked. So, here I am, still trying to figure it all out, one quantum mystery at a time!

Proudest accomplishment while at the University of Rochester?

My proudest accomplishment at the University of Rochester isn't something I've done alone—it's the community we've built within the Association of Latin American Students (ALAS). This legacy was inherited from Jose and Leopoldo, two incredible friends and remarkable scientists who laid the foundation of ALAS a few years ago. Initially, it was a small group, but now it has blossomed into a thriving community with around 30 to 40 members. We all share the unique experience of studying abroad and navigating its challenges together. This community has been a home away from home for me, providing a sense of belonging and connection to our roots. Seeing how much it has grown and how it continues to support its members makes me incredibly proud.

What do you like to do when not in the department?

I am a huge soccer fan and take pride in the Argentine cliché associated with it!  The thrill of the game is unmatched. Apart from soccer, I also love rock climbing for the challenge and adrenaline rush it provides. Friday evenings are reserved for playing volleyball with friends from ALAS and it's the perfect way to end the week on a high note. We are always happy to welcome new faces, so feel free to email me if you'd like to join us!

A Rochester must?

Without a doubt, a brunch at the Waffle Factory in Webster. It's not just the best waffles in the city we're talking about here; they're the best in the galaxy. And while I might not have scientific proof to back this up, I have yet to encounter any evidence to the contrary. Make sure to stop by—you won't regret it.

Feast/meal of the times? Details, please!

Without a doubt, it's an asado, the Argentinian BBQ. This isn't just about enjoying what I might boldly claim as the world's best meat (though I admit to a bit of bias); it's about the entire experience that comes with it. An asado in Argentina isn't just a meal; it's an event. It means spending 3-4 hours cooking outdoors, surrounded by friends, with a glass of wine or fernet in hand. But the experience doesn't end with the meal. What follows is just as important – hours of laughter, stories, and shared moments. It's this combination of great food and great company that makes it so special to me.

A holiday that rocks? Care to tell us why?

New Year's Eve holds a special place in my heart, especially when I get the chance to celebrate it in Argentina. It's not an annual thing for me, but it's magical whenever I can make it happen. Picture this: a big gathering with family and friends, around 40 of us, sharing a hearty dinner, laughing, and catching up as the countdown begins. Then, we hit the dance floor, letting loose and soaking in the moment's joy. The next day, we all gather again for a classic Argentinean asado, enjoying the sunshine and poolside fun because it's summertime in Argentina!

Care to share about a special tradition in your family/town/country?

I absolutely love preparing and drinking mate with friends. It's a daily ritual that I've perfected over time. Mate isn't just a drink; it's an experience that brings people together. I enjoy sharing this tradition with others, and many of my friends have become mate fanatics too! If you're curious, let me know – I'd be happy to share a cup with you!

Fun fact or quote:

Growing up, my dad was an amateur archaeologist, which meant my childhood was filled with adventures hunting for fossils. Together, we found some amazing pieces of history, from prehistoric shark teeth to half of a dinosaur egg! The best part? Our finds are now part of the natural museum in my hometown.

Ask me about…

The celebrations when Argentina won the soccer World Cup. Probably the last time I cried! (check the picture)

The goal of this initiative is to highlight the diversity of backgrounds and perspectives in the Department of Chemistry and help our community develop stronger connections and synergies. You can think of these spotlights as the beginning of a conversation that we very much hope you will continue in the corridors of Hutch and beyond.

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