November 22, 2019

In the spring of 2017 that directed my scientific

In my first semester of Bowdoin College, my introductory chemistry class ignited my
interest in studying science. I became fascinated with the connection between observable
macroscopic properties and the underlying microscopic rules that govern them. To satiate my
curiosity, I pursued a degree in chemical physics and explored research projects in Professors
Soren Eustis and Kana Takematsu’s physical chemistry labs at Bowdoin College. My senior year
internship with the Environmental Health Strategy Center (EHSC) focused these scientific
interests and curiosities towards environmental health. I am now excited to bring my crossdisciplinary
passions to solving these environmental challenges by pursuing an environmental
engineering doctoral degree in the field of sustainable water treatment at Yale University.
An invaluable component of my chemical physics major was my independent senior
research project, funded by a Maine Space Grant Fellowship, with Professor Takematsu. From
January through December 2016, I conducted research on the mechanisms of intramolecular
proton transfer in aminonaphthols. Throughout my project, I applied my theoretical
understanding of molecular physical chemistry to design experiments and rationalize their
outcomes. I performed measurements of my samples using UV/Visible absorption spectroscopy
as well as steady-state and time-resolved fluorescence emission spectroscopy. I also learned to
program and analyze my data using MATLAB. To supplement my experimental results, I
utilized Gaussian, a computational program based in quantum chemical modeling, to calculate
predicted data. I then compared these predicted and experimentally determined results to
elucidate the interaction between the aminonaphthols’ two proximal proton-binding sites. This
experience allowed me to deeply explore the relationship between a molecule’s structure and its
reactivity in both its ground and excited states. In the fall of 2016, I received the Grua-O’Connell
Fellowship to present my research at the American Chemical Society national conference and
was selected to participate in the Physical Chemistry Workshop for Undergraduate Research.
Here, my interactions with scientists in various stages of their careers sparked my interest in
attending graduate school.
Outside of school, it was my internship with EHSC in the spring of 2017 that directed my
scientific interests towards tackling environmental challenges, particularly water usage and
treatment. My daily phone calls to constituents and grassroots lobbying efforts helped to pass
legislation allocating funds for people to install expensive filtration systems that would remove
arsenic and other heavy metal contaminants from their drinking water. As a chemist, intrigued
by these heavy metal interactions, I decided to further research developing efforts to treat water.
In my advanced inorganic chemistry seminar, I wrote a paper and presented a talk focused on
magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles engineered for the removal of heavy metals in drinking water.
Throughout this project, I utilized my knowledge of how atomic structure affects a molecule’s
function to deeply understand the design of such technologies. I was able to synthesize my skills
in understanding chemical properties with my knowledge about the broader necessity for these
water treatment systems. It was through this endeavor that I uncovered a field of research that
merged my interests in chemistry and mathematics with my developed passion for environmental
issues. I knew that I wanted to pursue environmental engineering at a graduate level.
This multidisciplinary nature of environmental engineering is what particularly inspires
me to pursue it as a career. Environmental engineers must simultaneously be chemists who
understand the aquatic environmental fate of pollutants, engineers who design technologies to
remediate these pollutants, and economists who analyze the market feasibility of these
technologies. Only when all of these perspectives are thoughtfully considered can water
treatment systems be implemented to their maximal impact. I am excited about the  Environmental Engineering program at Yale because it inherently challenges people of all
disciplines to analyze their data through these different lenses. The labs of Professor Julie
Zimmerman and Professor Desiree Plata exemplify this through their close linkage with both
Environmental Studies and Green Chemistry. Working in these research labs would afford me
the opportunity to couple my interests in sustainable water treatment designs and environmental
chemistry. I am particularly excited about Professor Zimmerman’s work studying green sorbents
to remove inorganic contaminants. This research overlaps well with my interest in remediating
heavy-metal drinking water contamination that I developed during my internship. In my graduate
research at Yale, I would look forward to contributing to the dynamic field of water treatment by
bridging disciplines and providing comprehensive analyses of water treatment technologies.
This year, I have been working as a science and math teaching fellow at the elementary
and middle school levels. After earning my PhD, I would like to utilize my research, teaching,
and fieldwork experience to be professor, as this would allow me to teach and conduct research
at the science-engineering-policy nexus. I am confident that pursuing my PhD in Environmental
Engineering from Yale would be an opportunity for me to critically examine water usage and
treatment from a variety of perspectives, and thus prepare me for engaging in extensive water
analysis in my future careers.

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