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SMC students recognized for STEM work

| Friday, August 29, 2014

Saint Mary’s College seniors Mary Kate Hussey and Kate Bussey earned recognition from the Huffington Post for their STEM-related work this summer. Hussey took part in an internship at General Electric Aviation in Massachusetts while Bussey spent time at Saint Mary’s working under chemistry professor Kayode Oshin.

Bussey, who worked as a teacher’s assistant for Oshin her sophomore year, said Oshin asked her to join his research team after a conversation about looking for summer lab opportunities. The 10-week summer project involved synthesizing catalysts for atom transfer radical addition reactions, she said

Saint Mary's senior Kate BusseyPhoto Courtesy of Kate Bussey
Saint Mary’s senior Kate Bussey
“[Oshin] had very high expectations for us,” Bussey said. “I remember the first day we sat there during our initial welcome, with him telling us what we were going to be doing, and we were all kind of overwhelmed … but actually achieving the goal in the time we had was very rewarding.”

The research team, which included juniors Annie McGlone and Jennifer Connell, usually worked seven-hour days on complex material, Bussey said. She said tasks such as measuring the activation energy rate of each catalyst were hard to accomplish with common instrumentation and often required calculations or time in Notre Dame’s labs.

Despite some frustrations, such as trouble syncing lignans and reactions not going properly, Bussey said problem solving was a key part of the learning process.

“Just trying to not get frustrated, and keeping up the momentum and staying encouraged to try the next thing [was important],” she said. “That’s what research is. It’s not supposed to work the first time.”

Bussey, a chemistry major and math minor, intends to use the research as part of her senior comprehensive formal presentation. She said she would like to get her master’s in education and teach high school chemistry. The research program in which she participated was funded by the Marjorie A. Neuhoff Summer Science Research Communities.

Mary Kate Hussey also had an enriching 11-week summer internship at a General Electric Plant in Lynn, Mass. with the Environmental Health and Safety department, she said. Hussey said she was able to tour GE sites and learn skills that related to her chemical engineering major.

“Lynn is a manufacturing site and one of the few where you can see a jet engine start as a sheet of metal and end when it is assembled, tested, and shipped to the consumer,” Hussey said. “The sky was the limit at this site, you could learn as little or as much as you wanted about the process.”

Saint Mary's senior Mary Kate HusseyPhoto courtesy of Mary Kate Hussey
Saint Mary’s senior Mary Kate Hussey
The internship arose after talking to a General Electric Aviation representative during a career fair at Notre Dame, she said. Hussey worked with about 100 fellow interns and plans to apply lessons learned in the near future, she said.

“[Working in the industry] is definitely the sort of work I can see myself doing after college,” she said, “I have always had a passion for the environment and working for a company like GE.”

As a member of the varsity soccer team at Saint Mary’s, and after experience working as a teacher’s assistant in an organic chemistry lab, Hussey said she feels the College has helped her develop time management, determination and leadership qualities. She also encouraged fellow students to also seek out their passions.

“Experience comes from putting yourself out there and networking,” she said. “One of the most important qualities that a company like GE looks for in their employees is if they are well-rounded.  Of course your GPA is important, but personality and involvement is almost more important … it is ok to do your best and spend some time bettering yourself in other ways.”

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About Kathryn Marshall

Kathryn Marshall, Saint Mary's College '17, is a Biology and Humanistic Studies double major. Follow Kathryn on Twitter @kmarshallSMC

Contact Kathryn