Opening multiple doors to success

Graduating senior in Materials Science, Elizabeth Laskowski, is excited to start a new path in graduate school as she continues her journey to become a materials science professor. She says that the breadth of the materials science program and participating in undergraduate research has unlocked some incredible and diverse doors to choose from.

Elizabeth chose to study materials science because the program allowed her to combine interests in math, chemistry, physics, and biology. “I wanted to keep as many options open as I could while I was exploring what part of STEM I really liked”. She happily reports that the materials science program encouraged her to study them all, offering a breadth in curriculum that covers the essentials of metals, ceramics, semiconductors, and polymers, while developing the skills needed to go deeper into solving applied problems. “In the best way, the materials science experience at UW-Eau Claire encourages us to build on the core materials science coursework and fosters the creativity to use components from each discipline to solve complex problems.”

Elizabeth started researching smart polymers under Dr. Elizabeth Glogowski as a first year Blugold, and says she learned not only the skills to work in a polymer lab, but also the fundamentals of succeeding and communicating as a researcher. “Being able to really dive into the world of polymers and work with them intimately has provided the depth of research experience to complement the breadth of the materials science coursework. It gave me a solid base of research skills that transfer to any project I will want to work on in the future. I really think it is the foundation for working in graduate school and starting research projects as a professor someday.”

After three years in the polymer lab, Elizabeth tested out other doors that were open to her. In summer 2017 she worked in a physics summer research program in the Extreme Light Lab at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. “I felt incredibly prepared to branch over into a new field. I had a rich diverse set of problem solving skills and wanted to step outside of my comfort zone to test some of them out”. She measured gas and plasma densities using optical techniques with one of the most intense lasers in the world.

Elizabeth had doors open to her in PhD programs in physics, polymer science, and materials engineering. She has accepted the offer from Purdue University in Indiana, where she will be a materials engineering PhD candidate starting in fall 2018. Elizabeth is excited to see what doors open up as she continues her education and pursues a career in research and her dream of becoming a professor.