I received my B.S. in Chemistry from Furman University in Greenville, S.C. in 2017, and spent most of my life in the South– so I’m still getting used to the lack of sweet tea and New England winters! As an undergraduate student I worked in an analytical chemistry group studying the antibacterial efficacy of polymers found in contact lens solutions, which first opened my eyes to the ubiquity of polymers in everyday life. Deciding that I wanted to broaden my exposure to synthetic polymer chemistry, I searched for polymer-related Research Experience for Undergraduate (REU) programs and worked with Professor Brett Fors at Cornell University, studying how the control of molecular weight distribution can affect polymer structure and properties. In addition, I had the opportunity to work as an Advanced Materials Intern at the Michelin Americas Research Corporation (MARC) center in Greenville, evaluating new elastomeric nanocomposites and further exploring the broad depth of polymer science research. I am fortunate to have had a variety of research experiences that have not only challenged me to think critically, but also further develop my passion for polymer science and engineering.
On my recruitment visit to the Polymer Science and Engineering Department at UMass, I was captivated not only by the depth and quality of research, but also the culture of collaboration and mixing of perspectives. I was familiar with thinking of problems with “chemist glasses,” but our Department is unique in that it is at the interface of chemistry, physics, and engineering. I chose to come to PSE after interacting with both professors and students who had vastly different academic backgrounds yet are all committed to impacting the world positively through polymer research. After being here, I feel a deep appreciation for the ability to discuss challenging research questions with experts from different disciplines just by walking down a flight of stairs.
My current research under Professor Greg Tew is related to synthetic polymers that are capable of binding and intracellular delivery of protein cargo. I hope to expand our understanding of the interactions that dominate binding between cargo and carrier and use my synthetic chemistry knowledge to develop new polymers that are capable of preferential binding. I am fortunate to have received the GAANN fellowship (2017 – 2018), as well as the Spaulding Smith Fellowship (2018 – 2019). I am involved in the Soft Materials for Life Sciences (SMLS) traineeship program, a program that promotes professional development activities for its scholars and provides me with another community to engage with. I am passionate about providing guidance to students who are interested in our Department, and, as a second year student, served on the PSE Club committee which serves to organize social and recruitment events in our Department. I am excited to help organize a new student-led seminar series that will promote graduate students’ science communication, and hope to see you give a seminar talk if you come to PSE!
After graduate school, I hope to work in a life-science related industry as a Research & Development scientist. I look forward to using the skills I’ve developed here at PSE – from thinking critically about polymer science to communication and leadership – to help lead teams and solve modern problems.