Congratulations to alumna Emily Heckard (B.S. ‘21) for winning a prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (NSF GRF)!
Graduate Research Fellowships are awarded to early-career graduate students who demonstrate potential for significant research achievements in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM). According to the NSF, Fellows are anticipated to become knowledge experts who can contribute significantly to research, teaching, and innovations in science and engineering.
Emily, who is from Winston-Salem, NC, graduated from State in May 2021. As an undergraduate, she performed research both in Prof. Westmoreland’s laboratory studying the degradation of heat transfer fluids and in Prof. Fedkiw’s laboratory studying solid-state electrolytes for battery applications. In addition, Emily interned for Kay Chemical in research and development, and she was involved in professional service, including chairing the ChemE Car Team for one and a half years and performing STEM outreach with local elementary and middle schools as a member of Engineers Without Borders.
Emily is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in chemical engineering at Georgia Tech, working with Prof. Mark Styczynski to develop a low-cost, point-of-care biosensor to detect chronic kidney disease. After her Ph.D., she would like to work in R&D at a synthetic biology company. Ultimately, she would like to be a leader in such an organization so that she can direct the development of healthcare products, not only for the western world but also for developing nations.
She feels that industry has the power to effect change and she hopes to gain the experience and influence necessary to prioritize serving underserved populations and make a positive impact in the world.
Emily attributes much of her grit and success at State to Prof. Lisa Bullard, Director of Undergraduate Studies in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. As a young woman studying engineering, she often felt overlooked, ignored, and viewed as less competent than her male counterparts because of her gender. Prof. Bullard was a role model who encouraged her to ignore the opinions of others, take leadership positions, and follow her dreams, no matter how impossible they seemed.
Kudos to Emily for doing just that, and congratulations again for receiving a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship!