Voted Most Likely To:
Return to teach at Washington University in St. Louis
Washington University in St. Louis, Class of 2000
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Ph.D., Inorganic Chemistry
Currently Working As:
Associate Professor of Chemistry, University of Michigan
What do you love about your job?
I most love seeing the joy that my bright and talented students and postdocs experience when they recognize that their discoveries align with their predictions. Advancing science requires much trial and error, and the excitement of seeing that effort rewarded can't be beat. I also love the diversity of thought, skill, and backgrounds among my team. To me, this diversity is essential for properly prioritizing research directions and for planning how to best proceed to answer big questions.
What has been the most exciting part of your career so far?
I'm always excited to teach the world what we've learned through having new papers. I celebrate when I secure new/renewed funding for the lab. These are critical for sustaining a viable research group for years to come. That said, the most exciting part of my career is that all of the students and postdocs who have so far come through my lab have promising careers in science education or practice. I relish the role I play in mentoring them and nurturing their long-term success.
What would you tell yourself at age 18?
I'd tell me then the same thing I tell myself now: take risks, develop meaningful relationships, and keep life priorities in perspective. Back then, this meant taking challenging classes, getting deeply involved in undergraduate research, and having a healthy social life outside of studying. Nowadays, it means working on problems that I find interesting even if they take me out of my comfort zone, getting to know my students as people, and still having a healthy social life outside of chemistry.
How has ACS Scholars impacted your life and career?
My parents gave me all of the encouragement and emotional support I needed to finish high school strong and go to college to study chemistry. (I knew right away that I was going to major in chemistry.) But, they didn't have the financial means to help me pursue this dream. So yes, the scholarship from the ACS contributed partially to keeping me debt-free coming out of college. I'm now excited to serve as a mentor to current ACS Scholars to promote graduate education in chemistry.