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



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.


What is your favorite aspect about the program?

My favorite part of VIPER is that although it is a small group, people are doing very different things and it shows just how diverse working towards renewable energy really is. There is always something to learn from my peers.


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.


How do you like to spend your free time? Are you involved in any organizations in or out of Penn?

I spend a lot of my free time connecting with friends and reaching out to my loved ones back home. I enjoy working out (I love kickboxing, HIIT and latin dance) as well as cooking for my friends. I love exploring coffee shops in the city and reading from Colombian authors to stay close to where I come from.


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