June Y. Park ’16 will be working to develop a biomimetic, 3-D-printable scaffold for development of lung stem cell-derived artificial trachea and organoids.
“Studying chemical and biological engineering at MIT opened up doors to a lot of interdisciplinary research opportunities, and helped me discover my passion for polymers and biology. Beyond fluids and transport, Course 10B taught me a broad set of skills, from generating polymer nanoparticles and growing cells to modeling 3-D acoustics, building electronics, and doing genetics research.”
“The chemical engineering department and MIT at large have provided invaluable mentorship for navigating careers in both business and research. Even after graduation while working in consulting, the chemical engineering faculties and the MIT fellowship resources were generously offered to me,” she says. “I am extremely grateful for the MIT ChemE department and am excited to be joining the Gates Cambridge community.”
Mariah Hoover set out to be a chemical engineer because she wanted her work to make a difference in people’s lives. In her short career, Mariah has done a lot. After her bachelor’s, she worked on air fresheners in England. The appeal? “Consumer products have a quick turnaround. You can work on something, and see it in the grocery store 6 months later,” she says. Next, she helped clean up a chemical weapons site in Washington, D.C., work that really drew upon her training as a chemical engineer. “We had to figure out how to find the weapons in the ground, and to calculate exposure risks dermally, from inhalation, and long-term,” she says. “It was really exciting.”
During her Master’s degree, Mariah worked at Novartis in San Francisco, her first foray into pharmaceuticals despite her emphasis on biology as an undergrad, as well as at Cabot, a chemical company. Her next step? “I’m working for Shell Oil,” she says. “I’ll be working on introducing new technologies into refineries across North America. I can’t wait to get started.”
Entering Year: 2011
Undergraduate University: University of California, Berkeley
Thesis Advisors: Robert E. Cohen and Michael F. Rubner
Thesis Title: Strategies of Attaching Polyelectrolyte Multilayers to Cells and the Implications on Cell Behavior
Practice School Stations: Cabot Corporation (Billerica, MA), Novartis (San Carlos, CA)
Why I chose the PhDCEP Program
When I was an undergraduate, I was debating between getting a PhD or working in industry followed by business school. I want to work at the interface of business and technology, perhaps holding a management or business development role in a technical company. Thus, the combination of work experience and business school seemed like a logical path for me. However, during my internships, I realized that the people in more senior, managerial positions had doctoral degrees. I felt that having a PhD would open more doors for me, but getting a doctoral and MBA separately would mean too much time in school. When I stumbled upon the PhDCEP program in my graduate school search, I felt like it was the program of my dreams. It had the research experience and business aspect that I wanted, all together in one program.
Work experience and activities
As an undergraduate, I gained some research experience as an undergraduate researcher in the laboratory of Professor Maboudian. My summer internships at Genentech (2010) and Genencor (2011) gave me experience working in biotechnology, both for healthcare and industrial biotech. I also gained some teaching experience as an undergraduate teaching assistant for an organic chemistry class. During my undergraduate years, I was very involved in my sorority, Gamma Phi Beta, and was a member of Tau Beta Pi and AIChE. In my free time, I began running outside as a hobby and ran the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco. I also enjoy traveling and experiencing new places.
How did you decide on Course X as a major?
I decided to major in chemical engineering because I wanted to pursue an engineering degree that would be flexible enough to apply to fields in both chemistry and biology. I chose course 10 over similar majors such as 20 (biological engineering), or 3 (material sciences and engineering) because of course 10’s prominent reputation in academia/ industry as well as the flexibility that the department offered. It offers several engineering degrees, including 10, 10Eng, 10B, and 10C, which means students can find a chemical engineering degree tailored to their specific interests and goals.
I ended up majoring in 10B, chemical-biological engineering, which further allowed me to double major in 7A (biology), minor in 5 (chemistry) and complete my premed requirements. Had I pursued another major, I don’t think I would have had the opportunity to have easily pursued such a breadth of knowledge in multiple departments.
What is your academic experience in Course X?
The great thing about the chemical engineering department – and MIT in general – is that there are unlimited opportunities to further your academic interests. The undergraduate research opportunity program (UROP) stands out in my experience at MIT because of the high level research you get to engage in as an undergraduate. As a premed student, I found this very important because many medical schools expect you to have participated in research before you apply. Through UROPing at MIT I was not only immediately exposed to a plethora projects developing cutting edge bio/nano technology, but I also had the opportunity to work directly with world famous professors.
What are your plans post-graduation?
This summer I will begin working toward both my MD and MPH degrees at the University of Miami. This is a unique program that allows select students to attain both degrees in four years instead of five or six. I think I would ultimately like to pursue a residency in emergency medicine or trauma surgery, but I am also passionate about novel drug development, so I would also like to get involved with consulting for pharmaceutical companies. Contrary to popular belief, course 10 produces some of the best-prepared premeds because of their engineering background. During all of my medical school interviews, I was consistently asked how chemical engineering is applicable to medicine. My answer was always the same: As a chemical engineer, I have a unique skill set that allows me to apply concepts to the human body that we studied in thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, and heat/mass transfer. The human body is analogous to a bioreactor so, for example, understanding how oxygen transfer works for cells in a reactor can be directly applied to how oxygen is transferred from lungs into the blood stream!
How has your MIT ChemE experience helped you follow your goals/passions?
Becoming a chemical engineer has opened many doors for me. While I came to college with the intent to ultimately go to medical school, I knew that if I changed my mind, I could have easily pursued a career in several other trades with my chemical engineering degree. Just to give an idea, many of my peers are entering the pharmaceutical industry or oil/energy industry straight from undergraduate, and many of them are pursuing PhDs or master degrees in chemical engineering. There are also several students entering consulting, finance, or working for start-ups. A great feature of course 10 is that even if you realize your goals a little bit later in your college career, your career choices won’t be limited.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Because of the way course 10 is structured, it facilitates a strong sense of community among your peers. At about 70 students per year, you get to know everyone in your class very well. Some of the best friends I have made at MIT are the friends I met on the first day of 10.10 (the introductory chemical engineering class), and some of my favorite memories at MIT were made in Building 66 (the chemical engineering building). As I am about to graduate, I really could not imagine my MIT experience without course 10.
Graduation Year: 2015
Why did you decide on Course X for your undergrad?
Going into undergrad, I was very interested in alternative energy, particularly alternative fuels. Having enjoyed chemistry, physics, and especially math courses in high school, I decided that Course X would be a good means of pursuing these interests and preparing myself for a career in fuels. To be honest, I did not know what chemical engineering was, but given that Course X graduates wind up going into a wide variety of different fields, I decided ChemE would give me a solid background even if my career goals were to change significantly.
What attracted you to 10-ENG?
I participated in the MITEI pre-orientation program DELTA, through which I learned about the energy studies minor and flexible degrees like 2-A. I wanted to learn about developments in energy research and decided to pursue an energy studies minor. 10-Eng was a new program at the time and was not particularly well-known. When I found out about 10-ENG at a Course X department overview session a couple months later, I realized that this program could help me better integrate my interest in energy into my ChemE coursework in addition to pursuing the energy studies minor. When the program became ABET accredited a year later, I decided to do it; naturally, I chose a concentration in energy. I hoped that this integration of an energy focus into my Course X coursework would teach me how to apply the skills and knowledge gained from a ChemE background to contemporary energy issues.
How was your experience in designing your own program?
The flexibility allowed by designing much of my own program enabled me to take courses I might not have been able to fit in as well otherwise. At the start of my first year, I looked through the MIT course catalog, course descriptions provided by MITEI, and Course 10 degree paths in order to put together a preliminary 4-year plan. As both my interests and some of the courses offered changed from year to year, I deviated from the original plan, but it nonetheless helped me easily organize my program and ensure I was meeting all requirements. My advisor, Professor Armstrong, helped me make a number of decisions about these deviations by making sure I know about new courses being offered and sharing his knowledge and opinions about the topics covered in certain courses.
What are you doing now? Did 10-ENG help you with your career or personal growth?
I am now participating in the Course X M.S.CEP program. While doing 10-ENG gave me a better understanding of progress and limitations in the energy industry, I still took many of the same classes as those students doing straight X; while I was originally concerned that deviating from the traditional ChemE coursework might present a disadvantage in the M.S.CEP program, I have not found this to be an issue. Instead, the more flexible degree enabled me to focus more on my interest in energy, and I look forward to applying my improved understanding of problems in energy to my future research and/or work in industry.
Do you think Course 10-ENG would be beneficial for MIT and Course X undergrads?
I would recommend 10-ENG to anyone with a strong interest in one of the 10-ENG concentrations, especially if you want to take a relatively large number of courses in that concentration area or if you are fairly certain that you want to pursue a career in that field. The concentrations are broad enough that you do not narrow in your career options, in my opinion; instead it helps you shift your knowledge and skill set towards the interdisciplinary field you are interested in.
Do you have any other thoughts about your personal 10-ENG path or the program in general?
Putting together a plan – or more accurately several potential plans – for all of my undergraduate courses wound up being really helpful in making decisions about my program along the way. Between that and the help of my advisor and a couple other professors I had, putting together my 10-ENG program wound up being easy, and the program was a very positive experience and has opened a lot of doors for me.
chemical vapor deposition, membranes, organic surfaces, interfaces, and devices
Ph.D., University of California at Berkeley, 1987
S.B., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1982
S.M., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1982
Honors and Awards
AIChE’s Margaret Hutchinson Rousseau Pioneer Award for Lifetime Achievement by a Woman Chemical Engineer, 2021
John M. Prausnitz AIChE Institute Lecturer Award, 2019
Charles M.A. Stine Award, 2015
Elected Member of the National Academy of Engineering, 2015
Elected AIChE Fellow, 2013
AIChE Process Development Research Award, 2012
Printed Electronics Europe Best Materials Award, 2011
Keynote speaker, 23rd Int’l Conf. on Amorphous and Nanocrystalline Semiconductors, 2009
Chair, 5th Intl. Conf on Hot-Wire Chemical Vapor Deposition, August 2008
Donders Visiting Prof., Utrecht University, Netherlands, 2006
Excellence Award, SEMATECH, 2000
Tenth Annual Van Ness Award Lecturer, RPI, 2000
Chair, Gordon Conference of Diamond Synthesis, Oxford UK, 1998
Presidential Young Investigator, National Science Foundation, 1990
Young Investigator Award, Office of Naval Research, 1990
Amoco Foundation Fellow, 1982-85
NCAA Post-graduate Fellow, 1982
All-American NCAA Division III Swimming, 1978-82