2023 RBI Spring Workshop Experience From a Student's Perspective - Part 3

Erin Phillips with the poster she presented

Erin Phillips at the 2033 RBI Spring Workshop

This is part three of the student experiences series. Erin Phillips, rising fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in chemistry and biochemisty shares her experience from the 2023 RBI Spring Workshop on "Innovations in Packaging and Circular Economy."

Tell us about yourself. 

My name is Erin Phillips, and I am a rising fourth-year Ph.D. student here at Georgia Tech. I graduated with my bachelor's from Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia, in 2020. I am a student in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, but I am co-advised by Carsten Sievers in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Marta Hatzell in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering. The title for my thesis project is "Mechanochemical Depolymerization of Lignin and Lignin Model Compounds." I am currently writing a JACS Communication about the cleavage of the lignin model compound benzyl phenyl ether, which represents the B-O-4 bond found within lignin. 

How was your experience at the RBI workshop? 

I thought the workshop was fantastic! I really enjoyed the interdisciplinary focus of the event, which allowed for greater networking opportunities between departments. 

What was your main takeaway from the poster session? 

During the poster session, it was great to see what other PSE (Paper Science and Engineering) fellows were currently working on. We often all take classes together and pass each other in RBI, but it was nice to actually see everyone's work laid out and visually represented. I also enjoyed talking with a few people from the industry about their expectations in terms of hiring after graduate school and what a realistic position in an industry setting would entail. 

What more would you like to see in future events at the Renewable Bioproducts Institute? 

I think the greatest thing RBI can do is to continue to allow for PSE fellows to build contacts that we may not normally have access to during our day-to-day lives in RBI. Many of us want to continue in our field of research after leaving Georgia Tech, so events like the RBI workshop are a great experience to connect with others who share our interest and could help provide opportunities after completing the program.

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Priya Devarajan || RBI Communications Program Manager