Senior in Chemical Engineering
Hometown: Libertyville, IL
Research Project: Rational Design and Optimization of Heterogeneous Catalysts for Ester Reduction
Faculty Sponsor: Prof. David Flaherty
Melissa chose the University of Illinois for its strong Chemical Engineering program and the breadth of opportunities it provides. Shortly after arriving at Illinois, she joined the Dar Noise Biology Lab where she investigated genetic expression pathways and first fell in love with the process of scientific inquiry. Currently, she conducts research in the area of heterogeneous catalysis in the Flaherty Lab; she is especially interested in the structure-function relationships that guide catalyst design. She is excited to grow as a scientist through the support and community provided by the Clare Boothe Luce scholarship.
Outside of the lab, she works with Project for Less, a student organization that recovers food waste from the campus dining halls and delivers these meals to local food pantries. Additionally, she cofounded Womxn in Chemical Sciences (WiCS), an organization dedicated to advancing inclusivity within the undergraduate School of Chemical Sciences. She will serve as the president of WiCS for the 2021-2022 school year. In her spare time, she enjoys jogging, reading, and attempting to learn foreign languages. After graduating from Illinois, she plans to pursue a PhD in either Chemical Engineering or Materials Science. Eventually she hopes to contribute to sustainable energy technology in a national lab or academic setting.