Sunday, June 9, 2013

Office Stratigraphy: Bedrock at the Bottom

During this year's annual office cleanup, I came across the personal essay I had written when I applied for graduate school. Here it is, exactly as written 25 years ago:

I have always been driven by my creativity and curiosity. Aesthetic creativity has led me to the violin, the guitar, black-and-white photography, and rhyming verse. Curiosity about people helps me succeed in people-related jobs, such as being a head counselor at a summer camp and tutoring math for local junior high school students. Intellectual creativity and curiosity has pushed me towards scientific research in general, and materials science and engineering in particular.
I am extremely excited about being in a field where I can satisfy both my curiosity and my creativity. "Curious Abby" enjoys learning about how the structure of a certain material relates to its function; "Creative Abby" is excited by the opportunity to create a new material, design a new device, or conduct research in this field.
From my two previous research experiences (one in Northwestern's chemistry department doing biochemistry, and another in Switzerland conducting transmission electron microscopy experiments on amorphous metals), I realize that I can, and will, be excited by any type of materials research. However, the area of ceramics has especially attracted my interest. I have followed up on my interest by arranging to do my senior research project with a professor doing ceramics toughness studies.
My career will utilize my strengths to their fullest. I can envision myself in many positions: as a college professor, as a chairman of a materials science department at a university, as the research director in a company, or as a business woman running a materials designing or consulting company. I am a high-energy person, and my high-energy career will combine my curiosity and creativity with my enjoyment of working with people.
What strikes me most about this essay is how little I have changed in 25 years. Perhaps the biggest change is that I no longer use the word "utilize". The other change is that I've become increasingly interested in "connection" as well as maintaining "creativity" and "curiosity."

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