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.”
block copolymers, soft condensed matter physics, protein-based materials, bioelectronics
Ph.D., University of California Berkeley, 2007
S.B., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2003
Honors and Awards
Alexander and I. Michael Kasser (1960) Chair in Chemical Engineering, 2021
ACS Macro Letters/Biomacromolecules/Macromolecules Young Investigator Award, 2021
MIT OGE’s Committed to Caring Honor, 2019
AIChE Owens Corning Early Career Award, 2019
American Physical Society, Dillon Medal, 2018
Kavli Foundation Emerging Leader in Chemistry, 2017
ACS Polymer Division Fellow, 2016
AIChE – Allan P. Colburn Award, 2015
DuPont Young Professor Award, 2015
Camille Dreyfus-Teacher Scholar, 2015
ACS Herman F. Mark Young Scholar, 2015
Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow in Chemistry, 2014
NSF Career Grant, 2013
AFOSR award, 2012
NIH Postdoctoral Fellow, 2008-2009
Beckman Institute Postdoctoral Fellow, 2008-2009
Hertz Fellow, 2003-2007
Tau Beta Pi Fellow, 2003-2004
Sigma Xi, 2003
Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, 2002
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.”
Why did you decide on Course X for your undergrad?
The three big reasons that led me to choose Course X were research, skill set, and the department itself.
After conducting research on climate modeling in high school, I came to MIT with the intent of focusing on energy studies. I found that Course X had several professors conducting research relevant to a wide array of energy applications (virus batteries/solar cells, energy storage, carbon capture and sequestration, enhanced oil/gas recovery, etc.). So no matter which sector of energy I wished to focus on down the road, I knew chemical engineering would not only be applicable, but also highly useful.
In my first year, I participated in a UROP in the Strano Lab on thermopower waves. This experience exposed me to how chemical engineering concepts can be applied to study a system. In particular, I felt that chemical engineering provides the technical know-how to focus on solving problems at the molecular scale, while maintaining an overall systems-level view of how all the pieces fit together in a process. This is an approach that is very useful not just in chemical engineering, but in any industry or field.
Through my UROP, I also found out about Monday-afternoon research seminars where I learned more about research in chemical engineering, and also got a better feel for how the department is structured. The size of the ChemE Department was just right for me – not so big that it’s easy to get lost or hard to develop a rapport with professors, but at the same time, not so small that you feel limited in the opportunities the department has to offer. Since each undergrad class (~50-70 students) takes all the core classes together, I felt that the structure would really allow me to develop a core group of peers and lifelong friends.
…and I never once regretted my decision!
What attracted you to 10-ENG?
My main goal when I came to MIT was to learn as much as I could about energy, which I knew would require an interdisciplinary approach. I learned about energy economics and policy through majoring in Course XIV (Economics) and minoring in Public Policy. When it came to developing a technical skill-set, I knew that I liked the way chemical engineers think about problems. However, I would be lying if I said only chemical engineers had a unique perspective. Since solving the energy crisis of our day is going to require diversity of thought, I wanted to interact with and learn from my peers in different departments as well. When I learned about 10-ENG, I thought it presented an interesting opportunity to take classes in other departments and learn about how our friends in MechE, MatSci, or Physics (and others) solve problems and think about energy. I jumped at the opportunity and was the first student to sign up for 10-ENG. Of course, I concentrated in Energy Studies, which had the added benefit of being advised by Prof. Robert Armstrong, the Director of the MIT Energy Initiative.
For anyone interested in Energy Studies, I highly recommend looking into the Energy Minor as well (http://mitei.mit.edu/education/energy-minor).
How was your experience in designing your own program?
I am extremely satisfied with the 10-ENG program I designed for myself, with help from my advisor. Since I was a part of the inaugural class of 10-ENG, the department was also figuring out how the program should be structured. The electives offered within each concentration were quite varied and numerous. For example, within the Energy concentration, I took classes from global change science to electrochemical energy storage to the Physics of Energy (I highly recommend this one!). Since there were so many courses that I was interested in, it was not difficult to schedule in enough classes to fulfill the requirements without conflicts. The only difficult part was choosing only 6-7 classes out of all the options. The advising for 10-ENG is very good, because the areas of expertise of all the advisors are closely aligned with the interests of the students. I was able to talk to Prof. Armstrong very openly not only about which classes I wanted to take, but also about my research and career ambitions.
What are you doing now? Did 10-ENG help you with your career or personal growth?
10-ENG helped me expand my network of peers who were interested in energy beyond just Course X. Through these friendships, I became quite involved with the MIT Energy Club and eventually served as one of its Co-Presidents. Through these experiences and from mentorship from Prof. Armstrong, I also worked on two start-ups during my time at MIT. The first aimed to develop bacterial batteries for off-grid lighting applications in Indian villages, which involved working closely with biological engineers. The second was developing bicycle-powered battery chargers for use in LED lanterns in off-grid Indian villages, which involved working with mechanical and electrical engineers.
After finishing my undergrad in 2014, I stayed an additional year for the Masters in Chemical Engineering Practice (mainly because I just wan not’t ready to leave MIT or Course X!). This was a phenomenal program and the industrial component in the end really showed me how valuable it was to have diversity of thought. In the real world, you are no longer working with only chemical engineers. So, it is advantageous to be able to communicate effectively with engineers from different disciplines, for which I think 10-ENG prepares you well.
After my time at MIT, I wanted to combine all of the skills I had learned from engineering to economics and policy, but still wanted to explore the energy industry as a whole. So, I decided to start my career in consulting at McKinsey & Company, in their Houston office.
Do you think 10-ENG would be beneficial for MIT and Course X undergrads?
I think 10-ENG and flexible degree programs in general add a lot to MIT and offer a lot of benefits for undergrads. First, it allows for cross-pollination of knowledge across the engineering disciplines. Meeting other students across the Institute is possibly one of the best learning experiences at MIT. Second, if you know you are interested in a particular field, like energy, environmental science, biomedical sciences, or materials science, then 10-ENG would allow you to develop expertise in that area, more so than would the regular degree program. Especially with the accreditation of 10-ENG, there really is no downside to 10-ENG if you are passionate about your concentration.
Do you have any other thoughts about your personal 10-ENG path or the program in general?
One of the most common questions people ask about 10-ENG is the designation of the degree. The regular Course X SB degree reads “Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering”, while the 10-ENG degree reads “Bachelor of Science in Engineering as recommended by the Department of Chemical Engineering”. I’ll be honest – this was one of my major concerns when I was considering the program. However, after talking to numerous professors and employers themselves, I can safely say that no one really bothers with the name of the degree. They care about what classes you take and what you learn. For example, if you are a 10-ENG student concentrating in Energy Studies, then your academic course work is more suited to the needs of an employer in the energy industry. So, it really is an advantage when it comes to finding jobs within your concentration.
The second thing I hear about 10-ENG is that it is a way to get out of taking some of the Course X requirements. If this is the case, one should think hard about why he/she is Course X in the first place. 10-ENG is right for only those students who are passionate about their concentration and are fairly certain that they want to pursue either work or further studies in that concentration. In this situation, 10-ENG can be an extremely rewarding and enriching experience. Choosing 10-ENG was by far one of the most impactful academic decisions I have made and I am quite thankful the program was created.
Operating in orbit
Bobby Satcher recounts his experience as the first orthopedic surgeon in space.
MIT News: June 3, 2010
Astronaut and orthopedic surgeon Bobby Satcher tweets his NASA mission
The shuttle Atlantis brought seven astronauts including Robert Satcher ’86, PhD ’93, an orthopedic surgeon who tweeted through space, back to Earth on Nov. 27, after a 11-day NASA mission to stock the International Space Station.
MIT News: November 30, 2009
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.