What degrees do you hold, and what are you currently studying?
I took a very unique path through school – I completed three bachelor’s degrees in five years, where I studied Physics, Electrical Engineering, and Music (Performance, Violin) at two separate institutions that were 2 hours away from each other (SUNY New Paltz and SUNY Albany)! After that, I received a Master’s degree from the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering at SUNY Albany (SUNY Polytechnic) in Nanoscale Engineering. I’m now a student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and am studying Materials Science and Engineering. It seems like I’ve been studying a lot of different things, but one thing that I have always believed is that many aspects of science and technology are related. I try to remind students of that whenever I do outreach!
Give a brief explanation of your research experience
Previously, my research focused on Extreme Ultraviolet Lithography (for my MS) and solving problems that photoresist manufacturers face with out-of-band wavelength lights. Now, my research focuses on creating novel microscopy techniques to help understand, predict, and actively control grain growth in metals.
What do you hope to do with your degree? What are your career goals?
That’s a great question and one that I think many people struggle with. I spend some time teaching at a community college prior to starting my studies at RPI and I loved it, so I would definitely be interested in a professorship. At the same time, I am also really enthusiastic and love my research, so I would love to explore the options that government labs and industry have available to me as well, because I think that my research experience could really be beneficial in that setting. As my time in grad school closes, I think that I’m narrowing my options down, and looking for something that offers me the freedom of controlling my research interests, while still allowing me to be an educator! We shall see.
What are some of your hobbies? What do you do in your free time?
When I’m not in lab, you can usually find me at the gym for Zumba, or hiking and wandering the wilderness! These are things that I really love and I hadn’t been prioritizing much in the beginning of grad school – so I’m happy to have more time to do them now. I also love to sing and play music and do so through concerts, musical theater, etc. I am also a language enthusiast, and love to travel.
What’s a fun fact about you?
I received a black belt in karate when I was 10 years old! On occasion, I teach self defense classes to women, because I believe that it is important to be able to defend yourself if the need arises.
Do you have any advice for our GradSWE members?
If there are three things I can share with you in my experiences from grad school, they would be:
- Do something that you are passionate about, and surround yourself with the right people to help you achieve what you hope to.
I personally had a lot of trouble in the beginning of grad school because of my choices in research and advisor. I am now a very fortunate graduate student with an advisor that I work well with, and research that I am passionate about.
- Take time to enjoy grad school, and have a healthy work/life balance!
This is something I will undoubtedly emphasize over the course of the year in blog posts – taking a break and going home for the day to sleep, do the things you enjoy, etc, is as important as your research. Grad school has a physical, and emotional impact on all – it is a stressful time in your life and many students need that rest and relaxation to avoid burnout. I didn’t realize this for a long time – but I find I am much more productive now because I do take breaks.
- Utilizes all of the resources you are given in grad school and that you have available through SWE.
A lot of students come out of school and say things like “I wish I had gone to more professional development seminars.” I can’t personally say that – because I take the time to go to as many seminars about research and professional development that I can! I also utilize my career center if I have questions about my resume, and my SWE contacts as well. Your school, company, and professional organizations have a ton of resources available to you to help you grow as a professional, and to obtain jobs. Use them!