Dr. Felicia Fullilove — Class of 2008

1. Do you have any particular favorite memories from your time as a Butler University Chemistry student? What did you appreciate most about your time at Butler? 

I have a number of great memories from my time as a Chemistry student. Many of those memories come from the chemistry club, the Butler Summer Institute, and chemistry courses. However, one of my favorite memories is from my freshman year. During my first semester, I briefly toyed with the idea of changing my major from chemistry to pre-pharmacy. My general chem professor (Dr. Su) somehow got wind that I was considering a change in major and called my dorm room! He asked me to meet with him immediately to discuss my future plans and why I would ever consider changing my major from chemistry. I do not remember the details of our discussion, but the conversation sold me on staying a chemistry major. That memory sticks out to me because I think it represents the level of care faculty in the chemistry department have for students. They’re committed to seeing you succeed by identifying opportunities for you to grow both intellectually and professionally, whether it be through undergraduate research experiences, attending conferences, or networking with industry professionals.

2. Tell us about your career path and how you found yourself on it? What are you doing now? What are your future plans?
After graduating from Butler, I attended Emory University for my PhD in organic chemistry. My research focused on C-H functionalization. Specifically, I studied the reaction kinetics of the chiral and achiral dirhodium carboxylate catalysts utilized by our research group and many others involved in Rh(II) catalyzed carbenoid chemistry. When I initially entered graduate school, I wanted to work in industry, but after about three years of mentoring undergraduate and high school research students, I became interested in working at a primary undergraduate institution. This interest, as well as my own lived experience as a the only Black woman in my doctoral program, lead me to be become involved in scientific outreach and advocacy. After I defended in 2014, I completed a one-year postdoc at Emory in inorganic chemistry and science communication, which allowed for me to learn a new area of chemistry, while honing my communication skills. My research was still related to C-H functionalization, but as a postdoc I focused on earth abundant first-row transition metals, such as Fe and Co.  Eleven months into my postdoc, an opportunity opened up at Spelman College and I began working as a lecturer in the chemistry department. This position allowed me to work closely with undergraduate students and further advocate for Black women in the chemical sciences. During this time, I became aware of the American Association for the Advancement of Science – Science and Technology Policy Fellowship. The fellowship brings scientists and engineers to Washington, DC to work in the federal government. I applied for the fellowship because I thought it would be an excellent way to learn more about science advocacy and policy from a birds eye view. I was awarded the fellowship in 2018 and worked at the National Science Foundation on one of the NSF Director’s Big Ten ideas focused on broadening participation in STEM: NSF INCLUDES. For approximately a year and a half, I worked with experts in STEM education, broadening participation, and program evaluation. The experience allowed for me to become familiar with research and literature outside of what a traditional chemist may read and also introduced me to the methodology and research used by many social scientists. I like to think that this was my second (much shorter) PhD. The fellowship was one year, with the ability to renew for a second year. Midway through my fellowship, it became clear that I desired to work at the intersection of academia, government, and the nonprofit world. The American Chemical Society (where I work now) combined all of those things. I am currently a program manager in the Education Division of the American Chemical Society. I manage the ACS Approval Program for Undergraduate Chemistry Programs. The Approval Office manages the review of undergraduate programs applying for program approval and/or under annual and periodic review. We also work with the ACS Committee for Professional Training to develop, update, and clarify the ACS Guidelines for Undergraduate Programs. My current position allows for me to continue my work in STEM advocacy and policy while focusing in on the academic culture of undergraduate chemistry programs. For me, it’s a full circle experience.

Heidi Kastenholz — Class of 2019

What is your favorite memory of your time as a Butler University Chemistry student?

My favorite memory from being an undergraduate were the two short-term study abroad courses with which I participated. The first was in the summer of 2017 and  the course was CH418: Chemistry and Art. The class was amazing! The second course was NW210 in the spring of 2019 and I was the lab assistant and a chaperone on the abroad portion. Being able to share my passion for chemistry and art from the first course with the students in course this spring was a wonderful experience.

What are you doing now?

I am currently working at Butler University in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry as a Technical Lab Support. I’m really enjoying being able to work with the other staff and the faculty in this new capacity.

What are your future plans?

My future plans are to attend graduate school starting in the 2020-2021 school year for analytical chemistry. After that I’d love to continue doing research with cultural heritage science.

Dr. Lindsey Drake — Class of 2014

What is your favorite memory of your time at Butler University in the Chemistry Department?

I did research over the summer as a member of the Butler Summer Institute (BSI). I really enjoyed the freedom of designing my own experiments and working every day to answer those questions. That experience showed me that I enjoyed research and could do that as a career.

Were there any unexpected Life Lessons that you learned from the Chemistry Department?

Writing my honors thesis was a little bit of a nightmare. I learned how important it was to be organized and clear when documenting experiments while you do them!

What are you doing now?

I’m currently working toward my PhD in Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Michigan. At Butler, I didn’t intend to go to graduate school. After a co-op at Eli Lilly and Company during my senior year, I realized that I wanted to be a group leader and to direct projects, which requires an advanced degree.

What did you learn from chemistry that is helping you most in your current career?

My degree prepared me really well for my courses in graduate school. My laboratory skills also made the transition to doing research full time really smooth.

We are excited to share that since Lindsey’s interview in 2015, she completed her PhD at University of Michigan (in 2019), and is now a post-doctoral research associate at Yale University.

Dr. Daniel Kroupa — Class of 2012

Dr. Daniel Kroupa, WRF Innovation Postdoctoral Fellow in Clean Energy, has been named to the Forbes “30 Under 30: Energy” list for 2019. His research on perovskite thin films could create an efficiency breakthrough for solar photovoltaics when integrated with silicon panels, greatly increasing the efficiency of solar panels and lowering their costs.