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College STEM students present posters highlighting summer experiences

| Monday, September 3, 2018

Saint Mary’s hosted its annual STEM Fall Poster Showcase recognizing the accomplishments of its science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) students Friday in Science Hall. Participants presented posters documenting their experiences with a variety of summer activities, including research, internships and STEM study abroad programs.

Senior Heather DiLallo, a Saint Mary’s chemistry major who is enrolled in the Notre Dame chemical engineering dual-degree program, presented a poster detailing her summer industrial internship. DiLallo spent time with the company Procter & Gamble (P&G) working on their Bounty, Charmin and Puffs brands and completing projects for the P&G Engineering and Research and Development divisions.

“I had four projects this summer that made significant impacts on P&G’s brands, both in their immediate quality and raw material specifications, as well as in their long-term innovative chemistries,” DiLallo said in an email. “One of my projects in particular will save P&G upwards of $2 million each year when implemented.”

Her presentation at the Saint Mary’s STEM Poster Showcase included discussions about her experiences working with P&G, as well as her personal advice about balancing work and personal life, choosing the right company and scoring the perfect internship.

DiLallo said she grew up loving subjects on all ends of the spectrum, but especially loved the challenges math and science offered.

“I knew that I could use my technical skills to make a difference in the world as a scientist and engineer,” she said.

DiLallo received a return offer from P&G, which she said she will likely accept. In 2019, she will complete her chemical engineering degree at Notre Dame and plans to use the skills learned and passions developed at both Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame to create societal change, she said.

“I loved the chance to work for such an amazing company that cares about the impact it makes in everyday lives and on the environment,” DiLallo said.

As a female student involved in STEM, DiLallo said she believes it is important that women become more visible, vocal and represented in more technical fields.

“If we don’t allow half of the population to create and design the new products, research and innovations of tomorrow, STEM companies and research groups will never be able to provide the same impetus for change,” she said. “Women are just as bright and talented as our male counterparts and it is so vital for young girls to have mentors and role models in STEM to emulate.”

Alex Guevara Stevens, a sophomore chemistry and chemical engineering double-major, said she decided to attend the showcase to support some of her friends who were presenting their summer work, as well as learn about some of the STEM opportunities offered at Saint Mary’s.

“I find STEM very interesting because a lot of the research and information that is coming from these fields is allowing us to learn more about technology and ways to improve our daily lives,” Guevara Stevens said in an email.

Increased female representation in scientific and mathematical fields will help contribute new perspectives and ideas, improve resources for women and help pave the path for future women in STEM, Guevara Stevens said.

“It’s important for younger generations of women to have role models [who are] women succeeding in technical fields,” she said. “Having these examples of success allows for younger generations to believe that they can attain their dreams, and encourages them to follow the footsteps of those who they look up to.”

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