Samantha is from the neighboring community of Belchertown, MA. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Chemistry with High Honors from Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, MA in 2008. There she became interested in synthetic organic and polymer chemistry. Samantha spent two summers as a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) student working in the UMass MRSEC on Polymers with Professor Todd Emrick before enrolling as a graduate student in the Polymer Science and Engineering Department. Her REU research resulted in published papers, and additionally Samantha coauthor a review article with Professor Emrick.
When asked about why she chose PSE, Samantha commented, "The REU program at UMass exposed me to the field of polymers and their potential applications, and my interest in organic chemistry came to focus on polymers. I chose PSE because of the interdisciplinary nature of the program; I could not only engage in synthetic aspects of polymer science, but would also be introduced to the engineering and physical aspects of polymers. This is a prestigious department that is top ranked among Materials Science and Engineering programs, and prides itself on cutting-edge research by its faculty and students. The enthusiasm of the students, faculty, and staff combined with the facilities available for research all contribute to creating a great environment for graduate level research."
Samantha's thesis work centers on water-soluble, biocompatible polymers to be used as a novel drug delivery platform for small molecule drugs and therapeutic proteins. Her research projects focus on the synthesis of hydrophilic polymers containing functionality for potential applications in drug delivery. More recently, Samantha has also begun synthesizing functional amphiphilic copolymers to create novel micellar and capsule-type assemblies in solution.
In 2009 Samantha was awarded the Santos Go Memorial Scholarship for achievement in coursework and research throughout her first and into her second year at PSE. In 2010, she received the prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship in the field of Polymer Chemistry. The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF GRFP) supports students involved in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and provides the selected Fellows with three years of stipend support while working towards their Ph.D.
As a third year graduate student, Samantha's efforts are still focused on research in the lab, and she hasn't decided on a career path as of yet. Her future plans are still evolving as she gains more insight into career options for life after PSE.