A Few New Grads Share Their Post-Graduation Plans

The Class of 2019 was the largest graduating class in history for the McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering, with 109 students receiving their degrees. But now that graduation is over, the tassels have been turned, the family photos have been shared, and the cap and gown stuffed back into a closet, what’s next for new graduates? We heard from a few top students on their plans for the immediate future.

  • Three students on the lawn of the universityNicholas Curtis graduated with both a B.S. in chemical engineering and a B.A. in economics. After working in Dr. Lydia Contreras’ lab studying RNA-protein interactions for a fundamental understanding of sRNA function in prokaryotes, Nick was one of three undergrads in chemical engineering to be awarded the prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. He is pursuing graduate work at Dartmouth this fall.
  • Holly Ekas spent her undergraduate career in Dr. Hal Alper’s group where she assisted in developing synthetic biology tools for optimizing the metabolic production of specialty chemicals in yeast. After a brief summer break, Holly will be continuing her studies at Northwestern University, where she will be pursuing a Ph. D.
  • Diana Zhang is a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship awardee and she was recognized with a Rase Brothers Award, an annual honor for select students with high grade point average who complete their undergraduate degree in four years. Diana worked in Dr. Nathaniel Lynd’s lab synthesizing new polymeric cryoprotectants for the frozen storage of cells. This fall, Diana is off to the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities to start her Ph. D. in chemical engineering. Chemical engineering student in a lab
  • Ethan Freeburg was also a Rase Brothers Award winner. Ethan was very active in student groups: Tau Beta Pi, the honors engineering society, and the Longhorn Data Exchange and Chemical Engineering Undergraduate Advisory Board, which he founded. This summer, he will join Strategy&, part of the PwC network, as an associate in their Houston office.
  • Maya Venkatarama is a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship awardee who spent her undergraduate career in Dr. Hal Alper’s laboratory where she helped develop tools for controlled gene expression and high-level product formation in prokaryotic and eukaryotic systems. She is continuing her studies in chemical and biological engineering, pursuing a Ph.D. at University of Wisconsin-Madison in the fall.

As graduates embark on their next big adventure, they can stay connected with the department and network with friends through the department’s resources and through our social media channels:  Instagram     Facebook     Twitter     LinkedIn

Top picture: The Graduating Class of 2019. Pictured Center, Left to Right: Maya Venkatarama, Diana Zhang, Nick Curtis. Pictured Bottom, Left to Right: undergraduate coordinator Kelly McQueary, Ethan Freeburg

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