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Summer 2016: Jessica Soto-Rodriguez

Jessica Soto-Rodriguez is a 3rd year PhD student working in the Baneyx Lab. Initially interested in pharmacology, Jessica began her career majoring in Biology, but quickly realized she “was more interested in applied sciences, chemistry, and math” and transferred to Chem E. She received her BS from the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez in 2012. In 2013, Jessica joined our UW family and developed a strong interest for her research, which allows her to “combine molecular biology and protein engineering to efficiently integrate biological components in artificial devices.”

It didn’t take long for Jessica to have a large impact on our community, for which she recently received the Husky 100 Award. She found inspiration from her unique challenge of adjusting to a different language and culture, and to being the only female in her class when starting her PhD at UW. Of this she said “My experience has motivated me to try to improve the recruitment strategies for underrepresented groups in the department.” She strongly believes in bringing diversity to STEM because “when you have a diverse group of people, you can develop better technologies and ideas.” During her time at UW, Jessica has fostered a passion for outreach to further diversify our field. She is currently volunteering for STEM OUT, an outreach program partnered with TAF Academy for youth from backgrounds historically under-represented, and is a Student Talk Organizer for the UW SACNAS chapter. For her outstanding mentorship of an undergraduate design team, Jessica was awarded the 2015-2016 Lawrence Entrepreneurship Award. Post-graduation, Jessica is considering remaining in academia, with her ultimate goal to find something that will allow her to continue helping others. When asked for a final piece of advice for young women interested in chemical engineering, Jessica said “Always follow your dreams and pursue a degree that you feel passionate about.”

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