In her freshman year at Illinois, Elizabeth Murphy knew she wanted to work in an academic research lab, but she wasn’t sure about a career in chemistry. The general chemistry courses she was taking were challenging.
She was fortunate to find a place in the laboratory of materials science and engineering professor Paul Braun at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology.
“I entered the lab knowing nothing,” she said. “However, my graduate-student mentor saw potential in me. I worked closely with her for the next two years, learning laboratory techniques, scientific writing and presentation skills. My mentor’s patience and willingness to teach enabled me to gain the confidence to pursue a career in chemistry.”
This May, Murphy will graduate with a B.S. in specialized chemistry. She will begin a Ph.D. in polymeric materials chemistry at the University of California, Santa Barbara as a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow.
“The undergraduate research experience has shaped my career goals, research interests and the entire way I approach chemistry,” she said. “My education, however, extends beyond the classroom and research labs. Through its strong commitment to its student organizations, the U. of I. encourages meaningful opportunities for community service.”
Murphy served as the president, secretary and outreach chair of the American Chemical Society student chapter.
“In those roles, I have had the opportunity to connect with more than 400 members of the local community, mentoring aspiring chemists and gaining valuable leadership and teamwork experience. And I have had fun and made friends while doing so,” she said.
“I am grateful to all of the dedicated people who have helped me these past four years,” Murphy said. “The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has put me on the path toward a challenging and exciting future.”