COLLEGE STATION --
In celebration of Student Research Week
(March 28-April 1) at Texas A&M University, the College of Science will be taking five with five different people involved in various aspects and stages of innovative research at Texas A&M and beyond. Today's kickoff segment features Molly Huff '16, a senior chemistry major from Knoxville, Tenn.
Huff says she chose chemistry as her major because she saw it as a new language with many different areas that fit together and were bound by the same rules -- areas about which she wanted to know more. Currently, she is completing her senior thesis on heavy atom tunneling through Texas A&M Honors and Undergraduate Research
as a member of Texas A&M chemist and Davidson Professor of Science Dr. Daniel Singleton's research group. Previously, she was an undergraduate researcher working with flame retardants involving foam and fabric in the lab of Dr. Jaime Grunlan, Linda & Ralph Schmidt '68 Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering who holds joint appointments in both the Department of Chemistry and the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. Huff is set to graduate in May and has already been accepted to Harvard University's graduate program.
We caught up with Huff, who discussed her love of chemistry and how undergraduate research has impacted her life.
What's the best part about being a chemist?
"I think being able to picture things that no one else can picture or fathom because it's so different, and a lot of times it's so small, we can't just look at it under a microscope. Atoms are really there, they're really moving around, and to be able to picture that in my mind's eye is just fun."
What does it take to be a successful chemistry major at Texas A&M?
"I think it takes initiative, whether that's going and talking to a professor about their research or your class because you want to know more, or initiative to read the scientific literature to know what's going on in the field right now. The classes are hard, and you have to take initiative if you really love the science enough to be a chemistry major. You should really take the time to learn what's in your classes, because it's really worthwhile. It's going to be applicable wherever you are and whatever career you take, because it's all about problem-solving and using the tools that you're given to solve these really complex problems. That's applicable anywhere."
Why is it important for undergraduates to have research experience?
"If you're looking at professional schools at all, graduate schools or high-level industry jobs, you need that research experience. I didn't realize how important that would be when I was in high school, but having that available to you here is really crucial if you want to have a successful career in science."
Who has been your greatest mentor?
"I would say probably Dr. Singleton. I've had a lot of mentors, so that's really hard to choose, but he's really taken me under his wing as an undergraduate. He will personally tutor me in the research we're doing, knowing that I'm not going to be here forever. But he has so taken on the initiative to really grow me as a professional chemist, and I think that's more than I could have ever asked for or expected of any professor here."
What's the best advice you can give someone who's thinking about majoring in chemistry at Texas A&M?
"Talk to your professors. Make the relationships with them. You could go through your undergrad at Texas A&M and not have been to your professors' offices at all. I think that's really silly. There are world-class scientists here -- why would you not
want to talk to and interact and learn from them?
"Also, get involved in research as soon as possible. Don't think that you can't do research as an undergrad, because Texas A&M makes it very, very accessible. That's really going to let you know as an undergrad what you want to do after college."
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Now in its 19th year, Student Research Week is a friendly competition that highlights both undergraduate and graduate research at Texas A&M, one of the country's top research universities. The weeklong celebration fosters an environment for students, faculty and administrators to learn about student research at Texas A&M and also gives students an opportunity to win numerous awards and cash prizes. To learn more about the week's schedule and specific events, go to http://srw.tamu.edu/
For more information about honors program study within the College of Science, go to http://www.science.tamu.edu/academics/honors.php
Contact: Chris Jarvis, (979) 845-7246 or firstname.lastname@example.org