Alumni Story: Kathryn Riley '10

Chemistry and Biochemistry
Kathryn Riley '10
Kathryn Riley '10

After graduating from Swarthmore in 2010, I began graduate school at Wake Forest University. My experiences in the chemistry department at Swarthmore prepared me for work as a graduate student and will continue to benefit me as I pursue a career as an analytical chemist in academia. My coursework and labwork at Swarthmore have benefited me both academically and professionally.

The academic preparation I received at Swarthmore allowed me to get a jump start on my graduate career. My second day of orientation at WFU I had to begin a series of qualitative exams in organic, inorganic, physical, analytical and biological chemistry. My preparation at Swarthmore allowed me to meet the requirements to qualify and I was able to begin graduate coursework in my first semester. Passing my qualifying exams also gave me the opportunity to begin taking cumulative exams, which are a requirement to reach the PhD candidacy level at WFU. Having qualified within my first few days, I began taking cumulative in my first year and was able to pass three of the required four exams.Now as a second year student I have completed my cumulative exams and have been able to focus on my research and teaching responsibilities.

During the summer following my junior year at Swarthmore, I had the opportunity to conduct research with Professor Alison Holliday. This experience helped me realize my passion for analytical chemistry and gave me great preparation for graduate level research.

At Swarthmore I gained presentation and writing skills that have benefited me professionally. I had the opportunity to present my undergraduate research at a conference in Canada and at the annual Swarthmore Sigma Xi Poster Session.

Throughout my coursework at Swarthmore I was challenged to improve upon my scientific writing either by writing formal lab reports in many of my courses, by writing an essay comparing spectroscopic techniques in my physical chemistry course or by presenting power point presentations on an environmental chemistry topic in an advanced level seminar. This preparation in scientific writing has benefited me in preparing two posters on my graduate research and in grant writing. In the fall I applied for an NSF-EAPSI (East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes) fellowship and will be traveling to Japan this summer for 10 weeks to conduct research in a lab at Saitama University.

I can't say enough about how positively my experiences at Swarthmore have influenced my life. The department faculty and my fellow chemistry majors were so supportive of me as a student and continue to be as I continue my studies in graduate school.