Stanford Chemistry Newsletter
Winter Quarter 2019, Issue 2
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Jen Hope, Jack Sloane and Natalie Geise
New student organizations strengthen sense of community
Pictured from left: Jen Hope, Jack Sloane and Natalie Geise (Credit: Binhong Lin)

The department recently welcomed two new student organizations, the Chemistry Association in the Interest of Minority Students (ChemAIMS) and the Synthesis Supergroup, in an effort to foster camaraderie, collaboration and inclusion within the chemistry community.

While the existing Graduate Student Affairs Committee (SAC) organizes many events and activities, it does not facilitate programs that give students the opportunity to discuss their research, experiences, identities and hardships in a more intimate setting. The founders of ChemAIMS and the Synthesis Supergroup hoped to fill that void. Read the full story.
SHC: Prof. Marc Hillmyer
Sponsored by Dow
Learn more.

SHC: Prof. Sarah Reisman
Sponsored by Merck
Learn more

Merck Seminar & Poster Session
Learn more.

SHC: Prof. John Arnold
Learn more.

View all upcoming events.
Students in classroom
Chemistry companion courses offer students extra help and a community

First generation or low-income students arrive to college chemistry courses at a disadvantage - lacking the honors or AP science courses that others take for granted. A companion course series helps ensure that no undergraduates taking chemistry are left behind. Read the full story
Zinc-loving chemical compound helps deliver drugs that trigger insulin-producing cells in the pancreas
Researchers use zinc to target insulin-producing cells with regenerative drug

To treat diabetes directly, rather than manage its symptoms, doctors need a way to get drugs to cells that produce insulin. The key, Stanford researchers report, may be those cells’ affinity for zinc. Read more about the new study
Boxer laboratory sheds light on Zika's path to infection

When Zika virus hit the Americas in 2016, it hit hard, leading to intense interest in the disease and the mechanism by which the virus infects cells. Two years later, researchers still don’t know much, but Stanford chemists have now taken a step toward understanding one aspect of Zika’s function. Read more about the Zika virus
Jen Hope
Jen Hope awarded 2018 Jonathan L. Sessler Student Leadership Award

Graduate student Jen Hope was awarded the 2018 Jonathan L. Sessler Graduate Student Leadership Award on November 8th at the 2018 Sessler Lectureship. The Sessler Award was established to recognize a graduating student who has shown leadership and outstanding service to the Department of Chemistry. Read more about the Sessler Award.
Staphylococcus aureus bacteria cells
Stanford chemists develop a new way to treat potentially deadly infections

With drug-resistant infections on the rise and the development of new antibiotics on the decline, the world could use a new strategy in the fight against increasingly wily bacteria. Now, Stanford chemists report November 2 in the Journal of the American Chemical Society a possible solution: a small molecular attachment that helps conventional antibiotics penetrate and destroy their targets. Read the full story
Todd Eberspacher
Stanford honors Todd Eberspacher with the 2018 Marsh O'Neill Award

The Marsh O'Neill Award presents one of the few opportunities for faculty to acknowledge publicly the support of outstanding staff members who support their research activity. In recognition of faculty appreciation for outstanding contributions to Stanford's research mission, this award is made annually to a member of the University's Staff or Academic Staff. Read more about the Marsh O'Neill Award
Jennifer Maciejewski Petoff
Jennifer Maciejewski Petoff, Ph.D.
1999 Graduate, Waymouth Lab

1. What have you been up to since graduating from the Department of Chemistry?
I’ve had an extremely unexpected but fulfilling career so far. I started out as a senior scientist in the chemical industry and now I’m a senior program manager on the Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) team at Google with a number of wildly different stops along the way.

When I was a grad student in the Waymouth Lab, I understood that I had a singular choice: would I go into industry or academia? I chose industry and started my career on research teams at Union Carbide and Rohm and Haas. Very soon after starting in industry, I had the opportunity to come back to Stanford to recruit Ph.D. students. I love to travel and soon began doing more university outreach. I gravitated toward activities that involved engaging with universities. I was the chair of the Technical Community Organization at Rohm and Haas and set-up a New Faculty Award. Then an opportunity came up to move into university relations full time and I jumped at the chance.

That’s when something completely unexpected happen. A recruiter from Google reached out and asked if I was interested in joining their University Programs team. I ended up convinced that joining Google would be a great opportunity to advance both my professional and life goals. At that point, I wanted to do an international assignment and recognized that I would be more likely to find that opportunity in Tech than in the chemical industry so when I got the offer from Google, I jumped at the chance.

I’ve been at Google nearly 12 years now and have worked on four very different teams. I moved to Dublin, Ireland 8 years ago, realizing my goal of living abroad.

I’ve been a program manager on the Site Reliability Engineering team for 5 years. I lead the SRE Education program (SRE EDU) and I am one of the co-editors of Site Reliability Engineering: How Google Runs Production Systems that Google published in 2016. I never thought I’d have my name on the cover of a book other than my Ph.D. thesis but once again, you never know where your career will take you!

2. What is your favorite memory from Stanford?
Hanging out over doughnuts on Wednesday afternoons in the lobby of the Mudd Building!

3. Can you share any helpful advice for current students?
Know your guiding star. My guiding star is traveling and living abroad. Whenever a career choice came my way, I asked myself if it would likely bring me closer to this goal. Using this approach, I went from being a Ph.D. chemist once-upon-a-time to a program manager on the Google SRE team in Ireland, reinventing myself a number of times along the way.

Be open-minded. Your chemistry degree will get you that first job in industry but after that, you never know where your career will take you. Develop a reputation as someone who gets things done and is easy to work with and unexpected opportunities will come your way. Give those opportunities serious consideration.

A Ph.D. in the sciences is super-useful no matter what you end up doing. As a grad student, you go from knowing very little about an area to becoming the world’s expert on something. A Ph.D. teaches you how to ramp-up on something new so use this to your advantage. I certainly didn’t know much about Site Reliability Engineering before I joined the team. Now I’m considered an expert on the topic and often speak at industry conferences.

Don’t lose sight of your personal interests. In grad school, you’re pretty much working all the time and it can be easy to put your hobbies on the back-burner. I rekindled my interest in writing and combined it with my love of travel to create Sidewalk Safari Part-Time Travel Blog about 10 years ago. Make time for what you love.
We love to hear from our alumni and learn about your career and life accomplishments! Please take the time to update your contact information and/or share recent news on our Alumni Update Form.

 A gift to our department can support many aspects of our educational mission, such as grants for undergraduate research, graduate student fellowships, endowed lectureships, course development and enhancement, outreach programs and commencement awards.
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