People

Kayla Sprenger, PhD Student | 5th Year

Undergraduate Major and University: Chemical Engineering at the University of Washington

How did you become interested in Chemical Engineering? I’ve always had a passion for chemistry and math, but have also always been a technical problem-solver, which is what engineering means to me. Chemical Engineering was the perfect combination of these factors.    

Why did you decide to do your PhD here at UW? Being a top-tier research university, UW was of course one of my primary choices and having done my undergraduate degree at UW as well, I knew the Chemical Engineering program and faculty was excellent. My current PhD advisor, Jim Pfaendtner, is someone who I worked with during my time as an undergraduate and has been a mentor to me for many years. Also, being from the area and staying near my family and childhood friends was a big draw. 

Describe an interesting opportunity you've had through UW ChemE. Two things I really appreciate about the Chemical Engineering department at UW are the professional development opportunities and the commitment to diversity. I had the opportunity to lead the department’s summer seminar series, DYSS, in 2014 through which I gained great networking experience and fostered future professional relationships. In addition, the department’s focus on promoting gender equality is exemplified by the newly formed WChE group, which I have enjoyed/am proud to be a part of.  

What advice do you have for students considering graduate study in ChemE? With as large of a commitment as a graduate program is, take the time to really consider why you want to get a higher degree and how it will help you reach your long-term goals in the field of Chemical Engineering.