I grew up in the southeastern region of Virginia in the City of Chesapeake. After graduating high school, I went on to attend Virginia Tech for my undergraduate where I obtained a B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering with a minor in Chemistry in 2014.
I first became interested in polymers during my second year of college. The ability to tailor their chemical structure to satisfy the requirements of various applications was fascinating, and it inspired me to approach Dr. Timothy E. Long for an undergraduate research opportunity. Entering a synthetic chemistry laboratory as a material science major was challenging, but I enjoyed the research and spent the next two years synthesizing and characterizing thermoplastic elastomers and impact resistant polyesters. Working in the Long group propelled me into the field of polymer chemistry and motivated me to pursue a career in polymer research. I also had the opportunity to intern at W. L. Gore & Associates in the summer of 2013. From both my experiences in undergraduate research and the internship, I realized that I wanted to continue my education and obtain a doctorate in polymer science.
I applied to PSE UMass Amherst based on the recommendation from my undergraduate research advisor. On my recruitment weekend, I appreciated PSE’s cooperative culture that advocated frequent collaboration and the graduate student network. In my graduate experience, PSE has provided an excellent environment, rich in the synthetic and analytic knowledge, experience, and resources to cultivate my ideas. The diverse education also prepares the students to understand and communicate concepts with scientists in varying fields. Currently, I perform research under Dr. E. Bryan Coughlin, working on the synthesis of novel polymer membranes for applications in proton exchange membrane fuel cells and redox-flow batteries. I aim to further explore the fundamental structure-property relationships of these membranes by altering the polymer’s chemical structure.
During my time here at PSE, I have received the Robert W. Lenz Memorial Graduate Scholarship, the GAANN fellowship (2015-2016), and the NDSEG fellowship (2016-2019). It was truly an honor receiving these awards, which have provided me with financial support for the majority of my graduate degree. Additionally, I have also had the pleasure of participating in the various mentoring related programs such as Mentoring Committee, Outreach, ASPIRE, and STEM Ambassador. Through these programs, I have had the opportunity to introduce new students/scientists into the field of polymer chemistry and provide guidance to help them achieve their goals. After graduate school, I hope to obtain a research and development position in industry, where I can use my knowledge of polymers to lead interdisciplinary research teams in the design of advance materials.