Natalia Acero

Natalia Acero


Bogotá, Colombia


Degrees Pursing

Bachelor of Arts in Physics and Astronomy (Concentration in Business and Technology)

Bachelor of Science in Engineering in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering


Post-Penn Plans

I will be finishing my undergraduate studies at Penn in December 2021 and then I'm hoping to begin working in the solar industry to facilitate access to energy in Latin America. 


Penn Experiences

While at Penn I participated in Alpha Omega Epsilon, the women in STEM sorority on campus. With this organization, I was chair of Philanthropy and Fundraising and got to work in amazing projects to help the West Philly community. I was also part of Wharton Latino, which allowed me to stay in touch with my culture while away from home. In the last year I was vice president of Bell Senior Society through which I was able to meet a lot of interesting seniors that are interested in technology and entrepreneurship. 


Research Interests

I specialize in the study of atomically thin two-dimensional materials, particularly their layer-dependent behavior. My research experience focuses on the fabrication of van der Waals structures with transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs), specifically for photovoltaic innovation. I have been working since my freshman year with Dr. Deep Jariwala (ESE) in the Singh Center for Nanotechnology, where we’ve aimed to develop technology for the issues surrounding Space-Based Solar Power ideas. Last summer, thanks to funding from CURF and VIPER, I developed a fabrication technique using polypropylene carbonate and its phase change at different temperatures to more easily transfer and stack the different materials to create more stable, consistent structures. This mechanism has allowed us to obtain more reproduceable results. More recently, I worked on observing the effect that different heat and plasma cleaning exposure had on encapsulated MoS2. This work was published in Nature Partner Journals: 2D Materials and Applications in June 2020.


Why did you choose VIPER?

My biggest passion has always been renewable energy, especially solar energy. Being part of VIPER gave me a place of belonging and a group of friends with whom I could share this passion. I knew I would be surrounded with people who are interested in learning and have a strong direction towards energy. When applying to college, I wanted to find a place that would challenge and excite me at the same time.


What are three words you would use to describe VIPER?

I would say VIPER for me has been about time-management, passion, and determination.


How do you see VIPER integrating into your future goals?

For me, VIPER has been a lot about discipline and learning to work for what I want. Although I’m undecided about research, I want to continue working in the solar energy sector and my experience in the lab has shown me that I’m more interested in the fabrication and technology behind solar panels, specifically in nanotechnology.


What advice would you give to incoming VIPER students?

Penn is a very diverse place. Be honest with yourself about what you truly enjoy and, with a little bit of patience, you will find where you belong. VIPER is about hard work and time-management, but it is all much easier and worth it when you are truly interested. VIPER upperclassmen have been through this, so don’t hesitate to reach out to us about classes, research, our experience, or student life. We are always happy to help!

Graduation Year