Many scientists may hope to have the rare opportunity to work alongside a Nobel Laureate. Alan Enciso ’16 is living the dreams of many in a postdoctoral research position at Northwestern University under Sir Fraser Stoddart, a 2016 Nobel Laureate in chemistry. Enciso’s work there has involved the synthesis of fluorescent probes as well as synthesis of mechanically interlocked molecules and molecular machines.
Enciso first came to live in the United States in 2011 after accepting an offer to begin his doctoral experience in chemistry at TCU. Despite the unknown of leaving his home country of Mexico, Enciso thrived at TCU. “I had some of the best years of my life here,” he said. Enciso fell in love with Texas and with TCU, but it was his mentor that truly stood out in the midst of his five and a half years in Fort Worth. Eric Simanek, Robert A. Welch Chair of Chemistry and department chair of chemistry and biochemistry, first connected with Enciso during Enciso’s Research Undergraduate Experience at Texas A&M. Simanek was teaching at Texas A&M, and shortly after came to TCU.
Fate brought Enciso and Simanek together again after one of Enciso’s undergraduate professors mentioned his studies at TCU. The professor was a TCU alum, which originally inspired Enciso to research TCU’s program and eventually discover Simanek’s new position and continued research at TCU.
Enciso says he owes his success after graduation to Simanek’s support and motivation to “do great science. His door was always open, and he was always open to discussion. Eric always said to challenge myself and go to new places to see new techniques and that is what I did.”
As Enciso prepares to take the next step in his career after the completion of his post-doctorate, he is also awaiting the results of a new patented product he developed at Carnegie Mellon, which is currently in the licensing process by a biotechnology company. He developed a biocatalytic system, which advances the production of polymeric materials and allows the chemical modification of sensitive biological entities such as proteins. Enciso mentioned he did not have any trouble adapting to the rhythm and processes of research at other institutions thanks to what Simanek and the world-class faculty of the chemistry department taught him at TCU.
“He [Eric Simanek] had a huge influence on me, and his mentorship was important for my career” Enciso said. “He is a good mentor, and he really put me in contact with many areas of science that were in my interests. He sparked my interest for science while I was here at TCU. Now I am ready to pursue a career as a professor and try to motivate other people to pursue a career in science too.”