Chemistry major, Biology minor
Scientist II at Genencor in Palo Alto, Calif.
"My Hendrix experience provided me with a background and the capability to learn science at a deeper level than if I was just trained in the methods of chemistry."
Genencor is an industrial biotechnology company that has been around for ~28 years, and we specialize in enzyme and pathway engineering. The main use of our enzymes is for laundry/dish detergent and for fuel ethanol (starch and cellulose based). I work on the enzymes for breaking down corn starch for fuel ethanol. My training before working here was in biochemistry, specifically enzymology. I focus mainly on identifying the bottlenecks of the reactions in our enzymes, so that we can better engineer new enzymes.
During my time at Hendrix, I had three research experiences. My first was an NSF REU fellowship the summer after my sophomore year. This was in an organic chemistry lab at Trinity University. This work was presented at the spring national ACS meeting in San Francisco, Calif. My second experience was another NSF REU fellowship at Kansas State University the summer after my junior year. I worked in an analytical chemistry lab, and the results of the summer were published in the journal Langmuir . My third experience was working with the biochemistry Prof. Randall Kopper at Hendrix for my senior year thesis project. This work was presented at the spring national ACS meeting in San Diego, Calif.
How Hendrix prepared me for success
I have the belief that big universities train students while Hendrix educates them. When I started grad school, there were students in some of my classes that had been exposed to more by sitting in on or taking graduate courses in college at big universities. However, I feel that the education I obtained at Hendrix allowed me to learn everything required of me and then some in grad school. I never felt overwhelmed in grad school. My Hendrix experience provided me with a background and the capability to learn science at a deeper level than if I was just trained in the methods of chemistry.
I am very happy at my current job. I like how my research is aimed at solving a real global problem. I am happy to work on bio-ethanol. I have been consulting on our bio-isoprene project, which will provide a sustainable way to produce isoprene to make rubber for tires. We are also starting to move into butanol for fuel, which I am optimistic about its fuel potential.
Take your classes seriously and try to get the most research experience that you can. If your schedule permits, take more math than you think you need. Besides that, have as much fun as you can. I did.