Megan Plumlee-Chemistry


"It's a commitment of several years so I treat it like a job. I may eventually teach at a school like Pacific, join an environmental non-profit organization, become a researcher at a laboratory, or as many environmental engineers do, work as a consultant"


Research and Creative Expression

First Steps 

I knew I wanted to major in the sciences, and I figured it would be biology since I hated chemistry in high school and avoided physics.  I figured I could do something in the health field as a career.

Choices/Challenges

Ironically, at Pacific, I ended up majoring in Chemistry with a minor in Physics.  As a science-track student, I had to take classes in both during my freshmen year. I loved the chemistry class. The physics took a little more time to grow on me, but by my second class I was hooked. 

Finding A Pathway

During my senior year at Pacific I decided I would apply to graduate programs.  I was interested in graduate school because I had enjoyed my classes and the bit of research I did in the chemistry department for my thesis – and I didn’t want a real job quite yet. I’d become more interested in environmental issues, and through browsing graduate coursework, I found out more about environmental engineering. I decided to take the leap and switch fields.  I aimed high and applied to some great schools, and ended up at Stanford University. I started with the one-year Master’s program and stayed for the Ph.D. The Master’s allowed me to ‘test the waters’ of graduate school before committing to the full Ph. D, which would have been an option at some other schools.  Being a grad student in the sciences can be a pretty sweet deal since your financial support for living may come with acceptance into a Ph. D. program; otherwise you can try to win fellowships which cover tuition and living expenses.  

Success

Some people in grad programs know exactly what they want to do (for example, teaching or starting their own company), but I’m less sure. For now I’m in my program for the process, so I’m not as focused on what’s ahead.  It’s a commitment of several years so I treat it like a job. I may eventually teach at a school like Pacific, join an environmental non-profit organization, become a researcher at a laboratory, or as many environmental engineers do, work as a consultant at an engineering firm.  Environmental engineering is one of the fastest growing fields.  It makes sense – with our increasing concern for the environment, scientists (be they chemists, engineers, ecologists, or microbiologists) are needed to assess, solve, and prevent environmental problems.

Class of 2003


Posted by Career Development Center (careerdevelopmentctr@pacificu.edu) on Mar 14, 2012 at 11:12 AM

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