Category Archives: Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Women in Graduate School Conference

Caroline Wilson

Caroline Wilson,
Senior, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Athens, OH 13 February 2017

This past weekend, I spent my Saturday attending the Women in Graduate School Conference which was hosted by the Ohio University Women’s Center at Nelson Commons. My friend Stephanie, a fellow ChE major, told me about the conference because one of her friends helped organize it.

Although I was initially hesitant to spend my entire Saturday at a conference instead of enjoying sibs weekend with my friends, I have to say that the conference surpassed all of my expectations, and I am so glad that I went. There were a variety of different panels throughout the day which covered a wide range of topics: we learned about presenting ourselves professionally, budgeting in graduate school, and succeeding in and out of academia.

For me, the best part of the day was listening to the keynote speaker, Dr. Valerie Young, author of The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women. Dr. Young spent the day talking to us about impostor syndrome—that uncanny feeling that you sometimes get which tells you that you’re a fraud, not qualified to be where you are in life, and that someone is going to find out at any second.

I have to say, it was a huge relief to hear that I am by no means the first person to feel this way. In fact, around 70 percent of people—men and women—suffer from impostor syndrome. We talked about how the voices in our head tell us that we aren’t good enough, and how we should deal with them.

Within the next two weeks, I will be interviewing for PhD programs in biomedical engineering at two universities, and I have to say that Dr. Young’s talk could not have come at a better time for me. She reminded each of us that we are capable and qualified at a time in our lives when many of us are most doubtful of our abilities. I am so thankful to the Ohio University Women’s Center for putting on this incredible event—spending the Saturday with a group of talented and passionate women was a breath of fresh air and I felt lucky to be in attendance.

Going to the Movies

Joshua Greenlee

Joshua Greenlee,
Senior, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Athens, OH 31 January 2017

One of the best things to do in the winter months is Athens is…go to the movies?

Hear me out. Growing up in Athens, I never knew how good I had it in terms of movie theaters. There are two main theaters in the Athens area, Athena Grand, located on East State Street, and Movies 10/The Fun Barn located near Nelsonville, Ohio, off Route 33.

I would say most people are accustomed to spending loads of money at the movie theater, sometimes up to $12 per ticket with popcorn and candy seemingly marked up 1000%. This is absolutely not the case in these two Athens gems. Both theaters boast tickets under five dollars, all showings at any time. Despite the low prices, the theaters are actually well maintained, and the showings are always the most popular movies in theaters.

However, the real advantage is when it comes to snacks. For example, at Movies 10 you can get a popcorn, pop, and hot dog all for just one dollar a piece. The prices here are so low, they actually don’t care if you bring in outside food!

Movies 10 also has a recent addition to its theater, the Fun Barn. The Fun Barn is a huge arcade area filled with dozens of arcade games and a food court. Although it may seem childish, I can assure you my friends and I have had our fun reliving the glory days in the arcade. In the winter, when the weather is inclement and cold, outside activities seem to cease, making a trip to the movies a refreshing alternative.

Russ College Board of Visitors

Caroline Wilson

Caroline Wilson,
Senior, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Athens, OH 5 January 2017

Just before finals week last semester, I had the privilege of attending the Russ College Board of Visitors Meeting with my fellow ambassador, Rob Parker. The meeting was in sunny Sanibel Island, Florida. It was a welcome change to escape just as Athens was starting to get cold for the winter. Although I mostly had to enjoy Florida from the balcony of my hotel while I studied for finals during breaks from meetings, it was a nice change of scenery!

The Board of Visitors meets in person twice a year—once in Florida, and once in Athens. Rob and I were asked to attend to provide a students’ perspective. Over the course of the few days that I was there, I attended meetings which covered everything from the progress and goals of Ohio University as a whole to the Russ College Strategic Plan Goals.

As a student, it was extremely interesting to gain insight into the future of my college: being a graduating senior, it’s a bit bittersweet knowing that I won’t see some of the changes enacted while I’m still here. That said, I am incredibly excited about the direction in which the Russ College is heading, and the progress that we have made even since I have been here.

The Board of Visitors meeting was a great opportunity for me because it shed light on some of the challenges that the college has identified, allowing me the opportunity to brainstorm and potentially effect real change. There is a position on the Board open for recent Russ College graduates, and I hope that in the future I can be a part of the group in some capacity. I am proud to be a Bobcat, but more than that, I am so proud to be a soon-to-be graduate of the Russ College of Engineering and Technology.

Institute for Sustainable Energy and the Environment

Joshua Greenlee

Joshua Greenlee,
Senior, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Athens, OH 28 November 2016

One of the greatest decisions I have made with my time at Ohio University is getting involved in undergraduate research. I began the spring semester of my freshman year at the Institute for Sustainable Energy and the Environment (ISEE), working with another undergraduate student researching and developing a cost-efficient way of precipitating out harmful cations in fracking water.

After the completion of this project, I began a new project at ISEE testing the pyrolysis of coal in a fluidized bed to produce tar, which would later be treated with different chemicals and polymers to produce asphalt binder. Both projects gave me excellent undergraduate research experience and improved my independence, as each project required the responsibility and work ethic typical of a graduate student.

For the past year, I have worked in Dr. Goetz’s lab at OU studying the efficacy and toxicity of a novel compound in the treatment of ovarian cancer. I previously worked with a graduate student on this project, but after he graduated I was left to finish the project independently. If all goes well, I should be authored on a publication about this research by the end of the academic year.

Overall, my experience has led me to realize that I was made to pursue a career in academic research. It also helped direct me into figuring out what type of a field I wanted to pursue after graduation. If I never would have started researching as an undergraduate, I may never have discovered my affinity for cancer research, or research in general for that matter. If you are interested in participating in undergraduate research with a professor, I would encourage you to send them an email expressing your interest. I’m sure glad I did!

Intramural Sports

Nathan Arnett

Nathan Arnett,
Junior, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Athens, OH 14 November 2016

One may think that being ‘bogged down’ by an engineering curriculum and involvement in various organizations would leave no time for any fun–but this is not the case!

For the second consecutive fall, some of my closest friends and I have got together an intramural flag football team for the 7 on 7 Men’s Competitive League, and it is always an absolute blast on game days.

I strongly believe that a good balance between studies/involvement and recreation is essential for any engineering–or any discipline, really–student’s success. It is a great way to unwind from the inevitable stress of day-to-day college life, and also a great way to stay active and to just have fun with some friends.

In addition to intramural sports, it’s not too difficult to work time
into my schedule to make it to Ping Recreational Center for pick-up games of basketball once a week or so. Like I said earlier, when faced with what can be a stressful curriculum, physical activities and a little competition go a long way

SWE Conference

Caroline Wilson

Caroline Wilson,
Senior, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Athens, OH 6 November 2016

From October 26th to 29th, I had the privilege of attending WE16, the national conference for the Society of Women Engineers in Philadelphia, PA. We drove two vans to Philadelphia on Wednesday morning, and left early Saturday.

I had been to a SWE conference before—the regional conference in Cincinnati last spring—but this was a whole new ballgame. WE16 advertises itself as being the world’s largest conference and career fair for women in engineering and technology. It did not disappoint.

At the regional conference last spring, there were sessions to go to about LinkedIn, interviewing, and a few other topics. They were definitely interesting, but the sheer quantity of sessions at the national conference could not even be compared. There were sessions about anything you could possibly want to learn: in one day, I attended a panel about working while raising a family, a talk about presenting research as women in science; a presentation about advocating for diversity; and a session about unconscious bias.

The SWE conference is the kind of event that young women entering engineering dream of: thousands of poised, accomplished, determined women all gather in one place to celebrate each other’s accomplishments and help other women reach the same heights.

On the second day of the conference, I tried my hand at the SWE career fair. The breadth of companies which were represented was impressive—everyone from Google to Honeywell to Merck was in attendance. I was actually selected for interviews by two companies that morning: IBA Proton Therapy and Boston Scientific. Both went really well, and I was so grateful to have been able to speak with companies from the biomedical engineering field.

After the interviews, I had the opportunity to present my research in the WE16 Rapid Fire Undergraduate event. The title of my presentation was, “Novel Small Molecule Inhibitors of Inflammation Prevent Saturated Free Fatty Acid-Induced Inflammation Associated with Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease in Human Hepatocytes.”

This particular event was unique because some of the presentations were based on research projects, and some were based on internship experiences. I liked the breadth of topics that were addressed because of this set up: young women presented about everything from Harley Davidson motorcycles to weather patterns across the United States and their impact on heating and cooling bills.

I was so honored to represent my university, and in particular the Russ College of Engineering and Technology, at a national level. The entire national conference was the most amazing experience, and I know that experiences like it can completely change careers for the young women (and men) who are lucky enough to attend it.

National WERC Competition

Joshua Greenlee

Joshua Greenlee,
Senior, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Athens, OH 22 October 2016

As a senior, I decided to get involved in a few new student organizations within the Russ College of Engineering. One of these is the National WERC Competition, which challenges collegiate teams to develop viable solutions to real-world environmental/energy-related problems.

The competition has a few prompts to choose from, and teams can also choose to make their own project related to a current environmental problem. This year, our team of six chemical engineering students is creating a passive solar distillation process to treat acid mine drainage and turn it into clean water, while recovering the dried salts that remain. Our innovative design is entirely passive, using no electricity and requiring little to no human interaction.

Teams will not only plan how to carry out this process on a large scale, but they are also tasked with creating a bench scale model to represent how this process works on a small scale. In April, my teammates and I will spend a week in New Mexico, and go to New Mexico State University to present our design with our bench scale demonstration. Judges will grade the project based off numerous factors and give out awards to the top teams in each prompt category.

On the trip, students from OU also get to stop and do some sightseeing in New Mexico and Arizona, including hiking in the Grand Canyon. For more questions on about the WERC project, feel free to contact Dr. Ridgway.