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Rachel Kurtz - PhD Student, Chemical Engineering

“Stanford’s reputation for academic and research excellence, as well as the beautiful California weather attracted me to study here.”

Rachel Kurtz - PhD Student, Chemical Engineering

The chemical engineering department at Stanford University seemed to be the right match for me, due to its close faculty-student interaction and the breadth of topics covered by the faculty members, as well as the departments interdisciplinary approach. As a graduate student in the chemical engineering department, I have also had the opportunity to take several elective courses in different departments, including materials science and engineering, chemistry, and mechanical engineering. I was born profoundly deaf in both ears, and Stanford also offered both the intellectual, collegiate atmosphere and the accommodations that I needed, such as real-time captioning for lectures. Stanfords reputation for academic and research excellence, as well as the beautiful California weather attracted me to study here. The faculty, students, and staff are all warm and welcoming, much like Stanfords Bay Area climate.

What I Work On

My group is focused on complex fluids, and my current projects involve langmuir monolayers of fatty alcohols and polymers on an air/water interface. I have also had the opportunity to perform several x-ray diffraction and reflectivity measurements at the advanced photon source at the argonne national laboratory in Chicago.

Whats Great About Studying Here

I love Stanfords open and friendly academic environment, as well as the many extracurricular and leadership opportunities offered here. I have been fortunate to be involved in several different groups at Stanford, including participating as a graduate co-coordinator and graduate peer advisor for the Society of Women Engineers, as a co-treasurer for the Escondido Village Community Associates, and as a Safety Chief for my research group. Stanford offers many opportunities to attend talks by leaders of all disciplines and do research in world-class facilities. My research advisor and Stanford also accommodated the requirements of my fellowship by allowing me to work at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) for a summer internship. My studies here have made me more well-rounded academically, so I was able to apply my chemical engineering knowledge to areas unrelated to my thesis research at LANL.

What I Hope to Do

I hope to secure a position in a challenging and vibrant workplace that will allow me to both do pure scientific research and engineering to solve real-life problems. I also aspire to continue mentoring others, inspiring younger students including women in science and engineering and people with disabilities to reach their goals. I am considering a career in either industry or a national research laboratory.