December 11, 2018
Becca Thompson grew up in Evanston, IL. She attended Amherst College and worked in healthcare technology for two years before starting at the University of Chicago. She’s now pursuing a PhD in chemistry. We interviewed her about her experience at the University of Chicago.
Why did you choose UChicago?
The facilities and the university were beautiful, and I have always loved the city of Chicago. The chemistry department impressed me with the happiness of its students and the resources available for research and collaboration.
What noteworthy academic, research, or teaching activities you have pursued while at the UChicago?
As a researcher, I attended my first conferences last year and gave two talks on my recent work investigating the oxidative destruction of nerve agent simulants. Currently I am working on putting together and hosting the 2019 GRS (Gordon Research Seminar) focused on Dynamics at Surfaces. In addition, I have been employed by the UChicago Center for Teaching as a Teaching Consultant for two years. Among other things, this role involves sitting in on classes and providing pedagogical feedback to graduate instructors. I've also been a peer tutor for college undergraduates, and I often participate as a guest scientist for a local outreach program called Sisters4Science. Within the department, I have also been co-president of our Women in Chemistry organization, served as treasurer for the physical sciences division social committee, and served as one of the elected student Ombudspersons during the 2017-2018 academic year.
What activities do you participate in outside of the classroom?
I love to cook, craft, run, and read.
What are your plans post-UChicago?
The main plan is to do a postdoc and then become a chemistry professor at a small liberal arts college. I have also been considering transitioning to a career in data science.
What support have you received at UChicago?
During my time at UChicago I have received a departmental fellowship that funded me for one year. I have also received travel support for at least two of my conference registration and travel fees. The department and divison also have widely available funds for social events, professional development, etc. I have had many opportunities to plan and host events using these resources.
If you were speaking to a prospective student, what would you tell them about UChicago?
Learn early where the various departmental, divisional, educational, teaching, professional, etc. resources are. There are a ton of people and offices around who are dedicated to ensuring your success, but often you need to take the first step in seeking them out. Take advantage of all that your program has to offer (both socially and educationally). If you don’t see an opportunity that you’re seeking, chances are you’re not alone. The PSD generally makes it pretty easy to gather some passionate folks and work to make it happen.