Two doctoral students from the University of South Carolina’s chemical engineering department received the American Institute of Chemical Engineer’s Women in Chemical Engineering (WIC) Travel Award. As a result of the award, Sepideh Norouzi and Kyung-Eun You received free admission to AIChE’s 2020 Annual Meeting and a year’s membership to the professional organization.
The AIChE meeting, which took place online from Nov. 16-20, allowed both students to network with their peers. As the world’s leading organization for chemical engineering professionals, AIChE’s 2020 annual meeting brought together a diverse group of leaders and featured speakers from universities and companies across the globe. The WIC Travel Award — which supports female graduate students, post-doctoral associates, early career individuals and young professionals — gave both students the opportunity to join this network.
Recognitions like these continue to show the high quality of graduate students who choose our college and department, knowing they can pursue opportunities like this to grow in their time here.
- Melissa Moss, Chemical Engineering Department Chair
For Norouzi, the event was the first conference she had ever participated in. It provided her an opportunity to not only learn about others’ research, but to also present her own through an oral and poster presentation.
“This meeting was a big chance for me to have interactions with the other experts in this field,” says Norouzi, who is researching liquid crystals under her doctoral advisor, Assistant Professor Monirosadat Sadati. “I was able to share my ideas, know more about theirs, and get their advice for my research. I really needed that. And by participating in the event, I now understand what new researchers are doing in this field so that I can adapt myself. The whole experience provided me new insight.”
For You, who is nearing the end of her doctoral work under Professor Andreas Heyden, the conference allowed her to learn more about the many career paths in chemical engineering. She was able to speak to “brilliant” attendees and learn about their experiences and paths to success.
“From the conference, I met both students and faculty who were working with similar catalysts or reactions, and we were able to discuss our work,” says You, whose research focuses on computational catalysis. “They made a platform that allowed us all to chat and hold Zoom meetings to discuss our work with each other. All of the experts were in a similar field, so the conversations that came out of it were great.”
Despite the event being virtual, Interim Chemical Engineering Department Chair Melissa Moss says it’s awards and opportunities like this that inspire and motivate students to further their graduate studies in chemical engineering.
“I am extremely happy that these two women were given this unique opportunity to grow professionally,” Moss says. “Recognitions like these continue to show the high quality of graduate students who choose our college and department, knowing they can pursue opportunities like this to grow in their time here.”
Now, both students hope to take what they learned at the conference and use it to grow both personally and professionally.
“AIChE is one of the biggest conferences held in chemical engineering, and it is one of the active society communities that all the experts are involved in from academia and industry,” Norouzi says. “Winning this award for me means that my efforts are being considered. It motivates me to work harder.”