A Thank You Note to CBE Professors
by Alumna Chloe Archuleta ’19
I hope everyone and their families are safe and well during this time. It has been a little over one year since I’ve departed Mines to pursue a PhD at Northwestern University. I received an email from the alumni office about a mentorship program between current students and alumni. I instantly signed up, because of you all. Your mentorship while I was at Mines and beyond has been so critical to getting me to where I am today. I had to face a lot of hardships, but I was determined to use education as a means to better provide for my family and pursue my passion to make a difference in someone’s world. And I did it, one degree down, with a lot of your help. I thought you would all maybe like an update from a former student (I’ve heard professors like that so I hope I’m right…).
I moved to Illinois around this time last year, the first time I was making a big move away from my family. I instantly missed the mountains and couldn’t believe how big the sky was. Chicago has been awesome and I say I traded the Rocky Mountains for Lake Michigan. I love the city, live a 5 min walk from Lake Michigan, and love the university. I snapped this pic of the Chicago skyline on a morning run – I am so grateful for the opportunity to live in such a beautiful place!
I have loved my time at Northwestern so far. I joined the lab of Julius Lucks, using RNA engineering to build biosensors that can detect a range of molecules at the point of use. We have shown that these biosensors can detect contaminants in water, such as lead and antibiotics, and now I want to adapt this to use with complex human health matrices, such as blood, for point-of-care diagnostics. The experience I gained with Keith, Rodney, and Ben researching blood coagulation is what inspired me to adapt these biosensors into blood diagnostics. I also plan on adding a modelling component to predicting the biosensor’s dynamic range and other diagnostic characteristics. While I’m still a little scared to take on a coding project even though I know Diego taught me well, it’s been exciting seeing how my different experiences can come together in one project. Julius and I wrote an NIH R21 on this project, and I’m really excited to drive my research in the direction I want to go.
I was extremely fortunate to be able to reject my offer for the NSF-GRFP because I also won the NDSEG fellowship! The Department of Defense gives more money than NSF and you know, priorities. I am extremely grateful for Keith, Diego, Rodney, and Ben for their letters of recommendation (especially after I made you submit 16 of them for grad school apps 😬…I’m sorry). Professors Morrish, Carreon, Marr, Krebs, Boyle, Cash, Samaniuk, Barankin, Gardner, Ganley, Jechura, Norrgran and Ramey gave me the best education I could ask for. I appreciate the hours and work you put into teaching such complex problems that teach more than just chemical engineering, but also problem-solving and communication skills. I used all my ChBE class notes to get me through the classes and TA’ing. You pushed us hard, but you always always always believed in us and did everything you could to watch us succeed.
Another milestone: I published my first paper with Diego, and it’s still crazy seeing my name in a journal! I have submitted a review article with my lab that should be published by the end of the year, and am expecting my current project to have a paper soon. I can’t believe I’m a real, published scientist. Seeing my name in a journal gives me the same feeling of pride I felt on my graduation day. I just still can’t believe it.
I have continued my passion for outreach with GradSWE (Graduate Society of Women Engineers), SACNAS (Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics, and Native American Scientists), GeneMods (a Northwestern synthetic biology group), Expanding Your Horizons (EYH) for middle school girls, a department mentorship program, a GradSWE mentorship program, and our student workers union. This last weekend, myself and the rest of the SACNAS exec board put on an amazing 3-day virtual conference on allyship and equity, specifically focusing on how we can support the Black community in science and beyond. The pandemic has certainly limited what I can do, so I’m excited to do more tangential things once it is safe to do so. The older the get, the more and more passionate I get about making a difference in the science community. The tenure-track professor career is becoming less appealing to me and I crave bigger impacts. I am beginning to explore careers in higher education (Dean, VP, maybe even President!), as well as science policy. However, I love my research and still want to be a scientist. I have plenty of time to figure things out but I like to set my goals as soon as I can so I can get started on them. It will be interesting to see what I think in a year!
My family has been doing well and they are all healthy. My father and two younger brothers moved to California for my dad’s experimental cancer treatment, which was a success and he is now in remission. I am so grateful for UCLA and their doctors/scientists for treating my dad. My brothers LOVE California and go to the beach almost every day, which makes me so happy. My sister transferred from CU-Boulder Computer Science to CU-Denver Graphic Design. Unfortunately, she experienced a lot of hostility from the Comp Sci students and professors at Boulder, and struggled with her disabilities with little support. CU-Denver has been much more welcoming and while the Graphic Design tech is a little overwhelming for her, she is in a much better place. However, she is considering leaving college, as her disabilities are becoming overbearing. I support her no matter what and it’s so unfortunate that she could not pursue a career as a computer scientist. I am so proud of her for sticking it out as much as she could and am more dedicated than ever to transforming science into a more welcoming place for underrepresented students.
Thank you again for everything you have all done for me. You have been such important mentors for me, especially considering I am first-generation and had no idea how to navigate college and plan a career. Good luck with this semester and stay safe and healthy!
Class of 2019