Senior Camille Kaslan, a chemistry major, has been accepted to the biochemistry and chemistry department’s Ph.D program at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), with a concentration in physical chemistry. As Kaslan graduates from Mills, she is following the legacy of her grandmother, aunt and mother, who are all Mills alumnas.
“Specifically, the program I was accepted into is a track that emphasizes physical chemistry,” Kaslan said. “For people who don’t know what physical chemistry is, that’s kind of where chemistry and physics kiss and kind of become the same thing,”
She will be working with the quantum behavior of matter, where chemistry and quantum mechanics connect, according to Kaslan. Kaslan will also be focusing on how a molecule works when using optics, a branch of physics that involves the behavior and properties of light.
One lab Kaslan saw while at UCSD was a materials research lab where transistors, a device that can control the flow of an electric current like a switch, are being built.
“It doesn’t seem to be analogous to what people think of chemistry as,” Kaslan said. “It’s not liquids and beakers anymore; it’s giant machines and vacuums and expensive parts and pieces. You walk into this lab that I looked at and you feel like you’re walking onto a spaceship.”
As of right now, Kaslan is hoping that once she gets her Ph.D, she could do post-doctoral research either in a national laboratory or at NASA, or find a position as a tenure-track chemistry professor at the university level.
“Hopefully, that’ll happen before I’m 50. We’ll see,” Kaslan said.
Kaslan also has dreams of returning to Mills to teach.
“I’ve often had dreams about going back and teaching at Mills just because so many women in my family have been to Mills, [and] it’s done so much for me,” Kaslan said. “It’s kind of a pipe dream I have.”
Kaslan said that her time at Mills has helped her learn to think more critically.
“Lately, I have been noticing the way I think about the world. The way that I intake information and process is really different from when I was 18 years old,” Kaslan said. “I’m able to make great logical deduction and reasonable connections, incorporate skepticism and analytical thought. It’s been very rewarding to me.”
This post appeared in The Campanil‘s special Commencement issue which came out on Tuesday, May 6. For more graduation-related posts, check out The Campanil‘s designated 2014 Commencement webpage here or click on the “Commencement” link in the upper right hand corner of the header.