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Christy Petruczok ‘08

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When it came to applying to graduate schools during her senior year, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering major Christy Petruczok '08 was confident that her experiences at Clarkson would make her stand out on her graduate school applications.

She was right.

Now a Ph.D. candidate in chemical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Petruczok is working on explosives research. Specifically, she uses polymer chemical vapor deposition techniques to make sensors for detecting nitroaromatic explosives. She builds micro-scale devices that incorporate polymers that exhibit a swelling response in the presence of explosives, giving a signal to the user. Her research, which is funded by a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship, could have a significant impact on how explosives are handled in the future. 

Petruczok believes that the research opportunities she had at Clarkson helped give her a competitive advantage, especially as a Goldwater Fellowship winner.  "At Clarkson, I was able to do three years of undergraduate research, which was a huge boost on scholarship and graduate program applications," she explains. "Having a practical, lab-oriented experience was extremely important because even though the work I do now is different from my undergraduate research, a lot of the things I learned can be applied to any research."

Petruczok also credits the strong support system at Clarkson. She says, "I got a lot of assistance from my advisors that I don't think I would have gotten at a larger school, especially when it came to graduate school applications."

And it doesn't hurt that she really took advantage of the opportunities around her. "I was able to get involved in so much at Clarkson, from pep band and crew club to the Chem-E-Car and Destination Imagination SPEED teams," she says.

She concludes, "Thanks to all my hands-on experiences at Clarkson, I'm now getting another great opportunity. I get to be more and more creative with science. What's better than that?"
Christy Petruczok