Please tell us about yourself
I am Deepthi Varghese from India . Finished my masters from St Joseph’s College Bangalore, India. Was working with UB group as a Research Associate. Currently working on graphene and boron nitride composites.
Why did you choose a graduate degree in Chemistry? How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and unusual career?
Chemistry had fascinated me right from high school. I was fascinated with the fact that chemistry can be used in any branch of science to understand it better. My undergraduate degree in chemistry increased my curiosity to learn more about this subject and hence I decided to continue research in this field to learn more about how it affects everything around us.
How did you choose your advisor/research group?
I come from a background in biochemistry and initially I thought I would be working with a Biochemistry professor at UConn. I did talk some really good professors but I couldn’t decide whose group I would join. I had heard Dr. Adamson’s talk at the orientation and I was instantly amazed by his work. After listening to his talk I decided to talk to him even though his research interests were different than mine. After I spoke to him and his graduate students and saw their work I decided that Adamson group was the best fit for me. I must say it has been a rewarding choice indeed.
How has your research experience impacted you?
When I chose Dr. Adamson’s group I started with no polymer background, but now after 3.5 years of experience I can say I surely know some polymer chemistry. Though my research is in polymer chemistry, my actual work is more into material synthesis and its applications. My current work is on polymer graphene composites, the goal being to use properties of graphene and help it enhance some polymeric properties. Graphene exfoliation is a challenging process and I have worked on cheap and easy exfoliation methods. Using this method is how we synthesize our nanocomposites. Our materials have various applications like oil absorbents, supercapacitors, water desalination, flame retardants etc.
Please briefly describe your experience as a TA and the impact is has had on you.
Teaching at UConn has been a rewarding experience for me. I come from India and in my first class I was totally intimidated by my students because I was not sure how they would accept me as their teacher. I was pleasantly surprised when my students did engage in class while I was teaching and slowly the fear of teaching new people disappeared. I have taught different types of general chemistry students and if today I remember basic general chemistry it is because of teaching. While teaching I have learnt so many things from my students who are from various departments and it overall has been a great experience.
What has been your best/most influential UConn experience so far?
Two things have had very strong impact on me here at UConn. One is research and the other one is being part of a community and taking up leadership roles. Research has taught me to think independently and persevere even if things do not go the way you expect. My leadership roles have taught me that I should stand for what I think is right and to help people out who need that helping hand.
What is your favorite memory of UConn?
My best memories at UConn are because of the wonderful people I am always surrounded by. By being a part of the community I am in, it is really difficult to choose one instance but I can say that all the memories I have from UConn are because of the wonderful people I am surrounded by.
What advice would you give to incoming students?
I just have to say that make the most of your time in graduate school. Make new friends, meet new people, learn a lot and strive to be a better self everyday .