Tristan Hand is from Cincinnati, Ohio, and is going to be attending his second year of college at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College working on his Associate of Science degree. He is still undecided about what field of science he wants to go into when he progresses in his education. This summer, he works in Dr. Pietro Strobbia’s Optical Sensors lab at the University of Cincinnati. Dr. Strobbia’s labs develops surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) biosensors. This sort of spectroscopy attempts to detect and identify specific targets such as disease biomarkers, viral RNA, exosomes, and small molecules. The real-world applications of these sensors include finding new ways to detect cancer, food contaminants, diseases, and viruses such as SARS-CoV-2. Through the REU and Dr. Strobbia’s mentorship, Tristan is learning nanoparticle synthesis, sensor design, advanced instrumental techniques, lab safety, and data analysis. The experience of the REU will help Tristan gain new skills as well as narrow down and pinpoint how he wants to move forward in his scientific career after he earns his Associates degree.